TikTok has named a new CEO and COO, calling the moves “a strategic reorganization to optimize TikTok’s global teams and support the company’s unprecedented growth.”
Shouzi Chew, CFO of TikTok parent ByteDance, is adding CEO responsibilities at TikTok, the fast-growing, short-form video app. Vanessa Pappas, who had stepped in as interim head after Disney vet Kevin Mayer’s brief tenure ended last summer, will formally take the role of TikTok COO.
“The leadership team of Shou and Vanessa sets the stage for sustained growth,” said Yiming Zhang, founder and CEO of ByteDance. “Shou brings deep knowledge of the company and industry, having led a team that was among our earliest investors, and having worked in the technology sector for a decade. He will add depth to the team, focusing on areas including corporate governance and long-term business initiatives.”
Next week, TikTok will deliver a presentation to U.S. ad buyers during the NewFronts. Its user statistics remain somewhat murky given that ByteDance is privately held, but last summer legal documents showed that TikTok had about 100 million monthly active U.S. users, up nearly 800% percent from Jan. 2018. Its app as of that time had been downloaded globally about 2 billion times.
TikTok has found itself at the center of a swirl of controversy, though it has subsided somewhat as President Biden has succeeded Donald Trump in the White House. Trump’s administration went after TikTok for what it said were China-based ByteDance’s nefarious efforts to siphon user data. In an executive order last year, Trump ordered the company engineer of a sale of itself to a U.S.-led entity, threatening to shut off access to U.S. users. Oracle emerged as the designated new steward, but TikTok mounted a legal challenge that has thus far prevented any forced sale. The Biden administration ordered a full review of the situation, leaving the ownership structure unchanged for now.
Pappas, who is based in LA, will continue managing TikTok’s key operations, Yiming added. She joined the company in 2018 after previous stints at streaming video companies including YouTube.
“It’s humbling to be entrusted with this responsibility, and to partner with great leaders like Vanessa to drive TikTok’s unprecedented development as the global home for inspirational and creative content,” Chew said in the official announcement. “We will continue building out our strong and deep management team as we set the stage for the next phase of TikTok’s success.”
Prior to joining ByteDance earlier this year, Singapore-based Shouzi held various roles in the technology and investment sectors. In 2013 he led a team that became one of the earliest investors in the company.
“It’s truly gratifying to have the opportunity to support the most creative and inspiring community out there, and to work alongside a management team that fully believes in that community,” Pappas said. “I’m excited to deepen my partnership with Shou, and develop an even richer TikTok platform to provide people around the world a meaningful and entertaining experience. The TikTok journey is just beginning.”