China’s top tech chiefs are stepping down from their leadership roles amid Beijing’s sweeping crackdown on the sector. E-commerce giant JD.com’s wealthy founder Richard Liu is the most recent executive to step down. Last year, both Zhang Yiming, founder of TikTok-owner ByteDance , and Su Hua, founder of TikTok’s main rival Kuaishou, gave up CEO positions. In 2020, Colin Huang, founder of popular e-commerce platform Pinduoduo, stepped down as CEO. And in 2019, Jack Ma stepped down as chairman of e-commerce behemoth Alibaba. (Alibaba Holdings is also the owner of the South China Morning Post.) The pressure for a regime change comes amid increasing oversight from Beijing. In recent years, China has launched antitrust probes against tech companies, increased oversight of data security, and restricted consumers’ usage of internet and gaming platforms. The crackdown has dented investor confidence and hurt company earnings. Last month, social media giant Tencent reported its slowest revenue growth on record. JD.com also posted its first annual loss in three years. JD.com and other major tech firms are also firing thousands of workers. Here’s a round-up of the five former tech bigwigs and what they’re doing now. 6 Hong Kong celebrity restaurateurs who lost millions due to Covid-19 1. Richard Liu, founder of JD.com Age: 49 Sector: E-commerce Year founded JD.com: 1998 Net worth: US$10.5 billion Richard Liu, founder of JD.com, has been lying low since he was accused of rape by a student in 2018. Liu, the “Jeff Bezos of China”, stepped down as CEO on April 7, according to the company. In a release about Liu’s departure, the company said Liu would remain on as chair of the board and “continue to focus on guiding the company’s long-term strategies, mentoring younger management, and contributing to the revitalisation of rural areas”. Liu created Jingdong – otherwise known as JD.com – as a brick and mortar operation in 1998 in Beijing, selling electronics and computer components. The Sars outbreak in 2003 forced him to move his business online. The company debuted on Nasdaq in 2014, raising US$1.8 billion in its IPO. In addition to the industry-wide crackdown being felt by tech firms in China, Liu has been embroiled in a personal scandal. In 2018, a student at the University of Minnesota accused him of rape. US prosecutors dropped charges against him, citing insufficient evidence. But in 2019, the student, Liu Jingyao, filed a civil claim in the US against Liu. How Miss Hong Kong 2020 Lisa Tse went from Scottish nurse to Canto TV star 2. Zhang Yiming, founder of TikTok’s parent ByteDance Age: 39 Sector: Social media Year founded ByteDance: 2012 Net worth: US$50 billion Zhang Yiming, founder of TikTok’s parent ByteDance, left months after Beijing reportedly scuppered the company’s plans to IPO. He stepped down as chair in November, six months after leaving his role as CEO. Known to be incredibly private, Zhang said in his resignation note that he’s not “social” and lacked the skills to be a good manager. News of Zhang bowing out from leadership roles at ByteDance came as Beijing scrutinised the company. ByteDance reportedly decided in early 2021 to cancel its planned public listing after authorities wanted the company to address data security risks, according to The Wall Street Journal. 3. Colin Huang, founder of Pinduoduo Age: 42 Sector: E-commerce Year founded Pinduoduo: 2015 Net worth: US$11.3 billion Founder of Pinduoduo Colin Huang abruptly left his role as chairman in March 2021. The company was criticised for its toxic work culture after the deaths of two employees. Pinduoduo is a leader in gamified “group buying”, where buyers purchase items such as groceries while playing games, and rope in their friends to do the same to get discounts. Huang described the company in its IPO prospectus as “a mash-up of Costco and Disneyland”. Huang left his role as Pinduoduo’s CEO in 2020 and stepped down from his role as board chair last March. The company claimed that Huang gave up his chair role to allow new leaders to guide the company in its next stage of growth. Huang’s sudden departure in March 2021 came amid harsh criticism of Pinduoduo’s intense work culture. In December 2020, an employee collapsed and died after leaving work at 1.30am. Her death was widely believed to have been caused by overwork. Less than two weeks after, a second employee committed suicide. Pinduoduo did not comment on either death. After the first death, an employee spoke out against the company’s toxic work culture on social media and was subsequently fired, TechNode reported. The company claimed that it terminated the employee because he posted “extreme” comments, the article said. How Eileen Gu made over US$30 million in luxury endorsements 4. Su Hua, founder of Kuaishou Age: 40 Sector: Video streaming Year founded Kuaishou: 2011 Net worth: US$11.3 billion Su stepped down as video streaming app Kuaishou’s CEO last October. Neither Su nor the company gave a reason for his departure, but a press release said Su had “no disagreement with the board”. Su was moved into the role of chair of the company’s board. Kuaishou is a competitor to Douyin, TikTok’s Chinese-language equivalent, where users can make and watch short videos and live-streams, and shop online. Su’s departure came after Chinese authorities fined Kuaishou and other internet companies in July for sharing sexually suggestive videos of children on their platforms, Bloomberg reported. 5. Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba Age: 58 Sector: E-commerce Year founded Alibaba: 1999 Net worth: US$22.8 billion Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba, has been slowly shedding his leadership roles over the years. Over two decades, Ma steered Alibaba from a scrappy start-up focused on cross-border commerce to a US$460 billion empire that touched on e-commerce, financial services, cloud computing and AI, and employed more than 100,000 people. When Alibaba was listed publicly in New York in 2014, it was the world’s largest IPO at US$25 billion. But Ma has, over the years, slowly ceded control over the company. In 2013, he stepped down as CEO but remained the chair of the company’s board. In 2019, he stepped down as chair, and finally, in 2020, gave up his seat on Alibaba’s board altogether. 5 Hong Kong celebrity couples who broke up and got back together Despite shedding several of his public leadership roles at Alibaba, Ma still wields considerable control over the conglomerate through his current seat on Alibaba Partnership, a committee that elects most Alibaba’s board members. In October 2020, Ma criticised lawmakers by saying existing regulations stifled Chinese tech innovation. He was about to steer Ant Financial, Alibaba’s financial payments unit, to another record-breaking IPO when China ordered Ant to scale back to its origins as a payment service. Read the original article on Business Insider . Want more stories like this? Follow STYLE on Facebook , Instagram , YouTube and Twitter . If you are having suicidal thoughts, or you know someone who is, help is available. For Hong Kong, dial +852 2896 0000 for The Samaritans or +852 2382 0000 for Suicide Prevention Services. In the US, call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on +1 800 273 8255. For a list of other nations’ helplines, see this page.