TikTok has appointed as CEO its current ByteDance CFO Shouzi Chew. He will replace ex-Disney exec Kevin Mayer.
Mayer served as chief exec for around three months. He left in August 2020 amid the platform’s bout with Trump.
Mayer needed to dodge the possible negative upshot from TikTok’s battle with the US. But he explained he left assuming that the company’s full sale was looming.
“It did look as if that was a serious ruling by the CFIUS guys, that it had to be divested, and it was going to be divested. The fact is, the job that I signed up for was going to be gone, and I didn’t want to go run a division of Microsoft or Oracle,” said Mayer.
TikTok delayed a final ruling by repeatedly challenging the US Government’s order to ban the app. It was a costly legal battle. But the verdict was delayed until after the US Election.
The company’s fate was in the hands of US voters.
If Trump got reelected, he most likely would pursue TikTok’s full separation from its headquarters in China.
If Biden won, it meant a new administration to look and reconsider the TikTok deal.
Biden trumped Trump. And his admin is reportedly still evaluating how it will tackle the security concerns of TikTok.
The potential of sharing data from US citizens with the Chinese government is real. And the appointment of a ByteDance executive into TikTok’s helm is pushing that potential to become reality.
Interim TikTok CEO Vanessa Pappas will step down as COO. She replaced Mayer in a temporary position until things cleared. She was a general manager before talks about the acquisition erupted.
Pappas guided the company over a difficult transition, on top of the COVID-19 pandemic. She steered the company amid many legal challenges worldwide, as the app expands support across the regions.
She faced challengers who copied TikTok features over the past year to keep up with its exponential growth.
Now, she fills in a role within her skills and experience. And Chew will continue the chief exec responsibilities to focus on the expansion.
Chew is in Singapore. So, it may lessen concerns on ties with China.
TikTok has reassured authorities it will not happen. That it will not share foreign user data with China. And ByteDance even said it has incorporated the business in the Cayman Islands.
We will see whether these actions will appease the new US administration and the EU, for them to take a lenient view of TikTok itself or not.