TikTok Appoints Former ByteDance Executive Vanessa Pappas As CEO

Shouzi Chew, ByteDance's chief financial officer, will take over as TikTok's new CEO as the company prepares its future after last summer's drama with the Trump Administration.

Since Kevin Mayer resigned in August amid a disagreement with the White House, TikTok had been without a CEO. Vanessa Pappas, who had previously led the company's North American operations, was named interim CEO at the time. Chew is now TikTok's chief operating officer, following her appointment as CEO.

Chew joined Chinese-owned ByteDance as chief financial officer less than a month ago. He was previously an executive and chief financial officer at Xioami Technology, a publicly traded smartphone firm that the Defense Department recently blacklisted as having links to the Chinese military. Chew, a Harvard graduate, began his career in the early 2000s as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs GS -1.3 percent.

Chew takes the helm of TikTok at a watershed moment. The social media platform has grown to hundreds of millions of users while upending the industry and igniting a fight for supremacy with Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat.

A TikTok logo is projected on a smartphone screen alongside a computer keyboard.
A TikTok logo is projected on a smartphone screen alongside a computer keyboard.

More fundamentally, it is unknown if the Biden White House can follow through on the Trump Administration's attempts to compel TikTok's sale. The business successfully blocked Trump's moves last fall through a series of court wins, and the Biden Administration effectively continued to punt on the issue by promising to extend court deadlines with ByteDance.

Trump first demanded that TikTok sell itself in August, giving the company just over a month to comply. This sparked a frenetic few weeks during which TikTok rushed to fulfill the president's demands. It announced in September that it had reached an agreement with Oracle ORCL -0.1 percent and Walmart WMT +0.2 percent, but the terms of the transaction were uncertain. However, the transaction was never completed, and it has remained in limbo ever since.

Chew is a marked departure from Mayer as CEO. Mayer, a former executive at Disney DIS +0.4 percent, was seen as an American-friendly figure capable of bridging the divide between ByteDance and China and the West. Chew's appointment as CEO seems to indicate that ByteDance is unconcerned about the Biden Administration carrying out Trump's wishes, as well as an indicator that the organization is preparing for an IPO and can use his expertise as a CFO to prepare its financials for public scrutiny.

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