Zhang Yiming Net Worth (Updated 2024)

What is Zhang Yiming’s Net Worth?

Zhang Yiming is a Chinese internet entrepreneur and the founder of ByteDance, the company behind the hugely popular video-sharing app TikTok (known as Douyin in China). As of 2024, Zhang’s personal net worth is estimated to be around $43.4 billion. This makes him the second-richest person in China, after Zhong Shanshan of Nongfu Spring.

Zhang’s massive fortune comes primarily from his stake in ByteDance, which he co-founded in 2012. ByteDance operates several successful apps and services including:

  • TikTok/Douyin – The leading short video platform with over 1 billion monthly users globally
  • Toutiao – A popular news aggregation service in China
  • And others like Xigua Video, Huoshan, etc.

ByteDance was valued at around $268 billion in a share buyback in December 2023, according to Bloomberg. Zhang owns around 20% of the company based on testimony from ByteDance’s CEO.

While Zhang stepped down as ByteDance’s CEO in 2021, handing over to co-founder Liang Rubo, he still maintains over 50% of the company’s voting rights according to Reuters. This allows him to guide ByteDance’s strategic direction.

Zhang’s net worth has fluctuated over the years, once reaching $50 billion in late 2022 before dropping to around $42 billion in early 2023 amid TikTok’s regulatory challenges in the U.S. However, ByteDance’s continued growth and diversification of revenue streams have helped buoy Zhang’s fortune.

In May 2023, the 40-year-old entrepreneur set up a personal investment fund called Cool River Venture in Hong Kong to invest in technology-related industries, signaling his intent to further grow his wealth.

Here’s the breakdown of Zhang Yiming’s net worth:

Name:

Zhang Yiming

Net Worth:

$43.4 Billion

Date of Birth:

Apr 1, 1983

Profession:

Internet entrepreneur

If you’re curious about how we estimate a celebrity’s net worth, you can check out our methodology here.

Zhang Yiming

Early Life and Education

Born on April 1, 1983, in Longyan, Fujian, China, Zhang Yiming grew up in a family of civil servants. His early exposure to the value of hard work and discipline laid the groundwork for his future endeavors.

Zhang pursued his higher education at Nankai University in Tianjin, where he initially majored in microelectronics before switching to software engineering. This pivotal decision steered his career towards the tech industry, setting the stage for his future success.

Career Beginnings

After graduating in 2005, Zhang’s professional career began at Kuxun, a travel booking website, where he quickly ascended to the role of technical director. His tenure at Kuxun was followed by a brief stint at Microsoft, which he left due to dissatisfaction with the corporate environment.

This experience fueled his desire for more creative freedom, leading him to the startup world once again. In 2009, Zhang launched his first company, 99fang.com, a real estate search engine, marking his initial foray into entrepreneurship.

Toutiao

In 2012, Zhang Yiming, along with his friend Liang Rubo, founded ByteDance with the aim of improving the way people discover and consume content on the internet. ByteDance’s first product, Toutiao, a news aggregation app, leveraged artificial intelligence to tailor content to individual user preferences.

Despite initial skepticism from venture capitalists, Toutiao quickly gained traction, attracting millions of daily users within a few years of its launch. This early success laid the foundation for ByteDance’s rapid growth and expansion into various digital content platforms.

TikTok

Recognizing the potential in the short video content space, Zhang directed ByteDance’s foray into video sharing with the launch of Douyin in 2016, known internationally as TikTok. The platform’s unique algorithm and focus on personalized content recommendations propelled it to global popularity, especially among younger audiences.

TikTok’s success significantly contributed to ByteDance’s valuation, making it one of the most valuable startups in the world. By 2023, ByteDance boasted over 1 billion users across its platforms, with TikTok alone surpassing two billion downloads globally.

However, TikTok has been scrutinized by various governments over concerns related to national security, data privacy, and potential ties to the Chinese government. In 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice labeled Zhang a “mouthpiece” of the Chinese Communist Party, raising alarms about the app’s data practices and its potential use for surveillance.

ByteDance Valuation

ByteDance’s valuation has been affected by the ongoing scrutiny and regulatory challenges. In March 2023, the company was valued at $220 billion in private trades, down from a previous valuation of $300 billion. 

Zhang Yiming holds about a 21% stake in ByteDance. The company’s valuation fluctuations have a direct effect on his net worth. For instance, his net worth was estimated to be around $42.3 billion in early 2023, down from higher previous estimates due to the reduced valuation of ByteDance.

If ByteDance is forced to sell TikTok, the valuation of the app without its proprietary algorithm could be significantly lower. Analysts estimate that TikTok could be worth around $100 billion with its algorithm, but only $30 billion to $40 billion without it. 

The ongoing legal battles and efforts to comply with or challenge the U.S. law will incur significant costs for ByteDance. These expenses, along with the uncertainty surrounding TikTok’s future, could negatively impact the company’s financial health and, consequently, Zhang’s wealth.

Personal Life

Despite his wealth, Zhang leads a very private life. He lives in Beijing with his wife, whom he met at Nankai University. The couple does not have any children, and Zhang prefers to stay out of the media spotlight.

Zhang has made significant philanthropic contributions, including a substantial donation of 200 million yuan to an education fund in his hometown of Longyan, Fujian province, in 2023.

In recent years, Zhang has relocated to Singapore, joining other high-profile Chinese entrepreneurs who have moved their businesses and personal residences to the city-state.

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