V Pappas steps down at TikTok as new leaders are named

TikTok CEO V Pappas stepped down on Thursday after five years transforming what was once an obscure short video service into one of the world’s most popular apps, signaling a potentially wider shake-up for the Chinese-owned tech giant that it faces a battle for to survive in Washington.

Pappas was TikTok’s top executive in the US and was the interim boss before the hiring of TikTok’s current boss, Shou Zi Chew. Chew, who is based in Singapore, said in an email to employees Thursday obtained by The Washington Post that Pappas had stepped down “to focus on their entrepreneurial passions.”

Chew told employees on Thursday that the management changes were intended to “evolve” the company’s organizational structure, including promoting TikTok chief of staff Adam Presser to chief operating officer and hiring a Disney veteran, Zenia Mucha, to become the company’s lead brand. and communications officer.

“This is a huge moment for TikTok,” said Reuven Ashtar, CEO of creator management company Never Napping. “It means a shift that will get to the heart of whether TikTok remains a creative hub and how it can move to embrace Hollywood and media.”

The move was also met with anxiety among TikTok employees, two of whom told The Post that recent reorganizations have contributed to a sense of doubt and disorganization at the company. Eric Han, the US head of trust and security, left the company last month.

Pappas had once served as the face of the company on Capitol Hill, including during a fiery Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee hearing in September, where members of Congress grilled the leader over TikTok parent company ByteDance’s Chinese roots.

Pappas also built close relationships with the video creators and influencers who have become the lifeblood of modern social media. Pappas served on a formative team at YouTube, which Pappas left in 2018, that coined the term “creator” in its modern usage.

The TikTok boss’s mission: Avert a ban. It could be a “death wish”.

Pappas, who previously used the name Vanessa, came out as non-binary in February and prefers they/them pronouns.

Pappas led TikTok through a rocky period after Kevin Mayer stepped down as CEO after just a few months in 2020, citing his frustrations over political infighting between TikTok and the Trump administration.

Where Chew was reserved in public appearances, Pappas was known for a more honest approach. In March, Pappas told attendees at a summit in Los Angeles that some US lawmakers’ suspicions about TikTok’s Chinese connection were based on “xenophobia.”

In a memo to employees Thursday, Pappas said they would take an advisory role at the company, but gave no other indication of future work.

“I took a chance on what was at the time a completely unknown company and product and followed my intuition,” Pappas wrote. “Five years later, we have grown into a global team of thousands. … I finally feel the time has come to move on.”

TikTok is suing Montana to block the ban, citing the First Amendment

TikTok says it has more than 1 billion monthly active users, including more than 100 million in the US, but the company faces an existential threat from US lawmakers and government officials, who have expressed interest in heavily regulating or banning the company over fears of Chinese government involvement.

It is unclear how Pappas’ move will affect the company’s ongoing negotiations with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, the federal agency that reviews corporate deals for national security concerns.

The executive change also comes as TikTok fights to secure its dominance in the online market for fast, colorful videos, including competition from new entrants from US tech giants Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

“There’s obviously a race to be the platform that monetizes short-form content enough for creators to care,” Jordan Matter, a family content creator in Los Angeles with more than 5 million TikTok followers. “YouTube so far is the closest to it, so for TikTok to maintain its position as the titan of short form, they need to find a way to monetize their content more.”

This is a development story. Please check back for updates.

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