Kuaishou CEO Is Latest Tech Founder to Retreat in Crackdown
(Bloomberg) -- Kuaishou Technology Chief Executive Officer Su Hua became the latest founder to step back from a Chinese tech firm after a yearlong campaign by Beijing to rein in excesses in the industry.
Su, 39, will remain chairman of Kuaishou to focus on long-term strategy and new initiatives, the short-video giant said in a statement late Friday. Fellow co-founder Cheng Yixiao will take over as CEO to lead day-to-day operations and business development. Shares of Kuaishou tumbled as much as 5.1% on Monday after the announcement.
The billionaire is surrendering the CEO title just nine months after Kuaishou went public in a $5.4 billion initial public offering that was the largest internet debut since Uber Technologies Inc. After nearly tripling in the days immediately after listing, the stock is now trading below its IPO price, having been battered by intensifying competition with the likes of ByteDance Ltd. and Bilibili Inc., as well as a crackdown from Beijing.
The intense scrutiny -- spanning everything from antitrust to after-school education and online entertainment -- has coincided with a flurry of management shuffles at some of the largest tech firms. Rival social media giant ByteDance’s founder Zhang Yiming stepped down as CEO in May to focus on longer-term initiatives, while JD.com Inc. in September named a new president, saying that Chairman Richard Liu will concentrate on long-term strategies. Pinduoduo Inc.’s Colin Huang has gone even further, giving up both CEO and chairman titles at the e-commerce firm he created.
Su and Cheng first met in 2013 and transformed Kuaishou, which the latter had launched two years earlier as a GIF maker, into a video-sharing platform that featured content including vignettes of life in rural China. In recent years, Kuaishou has ventured beyond its home market, seeking a social media hit that could rival TikTok. Its Kwai and SnackVideo apps have found some success in markets like South America, Indonesia and Pakistan, but an attempt to break into the U.S. was abandoned earlier this year.
Brokers including Credit Suisse and Jefferies were among those that lifted Kuaishou’s target price last month ahead of its third-quarter results, citing expectations of strong ad sales.
“We believe adjustment in management roles strengthens organizational effectiveness,” Jefferies analysts led by Thomas Chong wrote in a research note Monday.
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