Pinduoduo founder steps down as chief executive

Colin Zheng Huang, the founder of the high-flying Chinese online shopping company Pinduoduo, is stepping down as chief executive and away from day-to-day management as it faces mounting losses.

Pinduoduo’s share price has more than doubled since March but the company has faced concerns over its large subsidies to shoppers and the concentration of power around Mr Huang, who until Wednesday served as chief executive, chairman and effectively its chief financial officer.

Pinduoduo appointed Chen Lei, its chief technology officer, as chief executive. Mr Chen was a classmate of Mr Huang’s at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and worked alongside him on several ventures including gaming studio Xinyoudi.

“I will take a step back from day-to-day management of the company’s operations and work with the relevant teams and the board on our long-term strategy and corporate structure,” Mr Huang said in a statement. 

“Chen Lei, our new CEO, is a key member of our founding team at PDD and has been heavily involved in the operational decisions at PDD,” said Mr Huang.

Mr Huang founded Pinduoduo in 2015 and will remain its chairman and in full control, holding the majority of voting power. 

Pinduoduo’s market value has risen to above $100bn in recent weeks as investors bet on its rapid growth.

The company also said it had appointed a new vice-president of finance, Ma Jing, who comes to the company from luxury conglomerate Chanel’s China business, where he held finance-related roles. 

“For our senior finance role, the most important things we look for are integrity and skillsets,” said Mr Huang. The company did not immediately say if Mr Ma would begin to certify its financial results, nor explain why he did not receive the title of chief financial officer.