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TikTok’s COO Departure Sets Up Leadership Shuffle

TikTok’s COO Departure Sets Up Leadership Shuffle

TikTok’s chief operating officer and top U.S. executive V. Pappas is leaving the company after nearly five years, to focus on unspecified entrepreneurial passions. The departure marks a key U.S. leadership transition at the China-based video-sharing company amid high-profile challenges in its largest market.

  • Pappas told employees: “To our amazing community of creators, employees, & people who have made TikTok ‘the last sunny spot on the internet’, it has been an absolute privilege to serve you all.” Pappas leaves amid “some of the industry’s most unprecedented challenges.”
  • As TikTok’s top public advocate, Pappas oversaw the platform’s rapid growth to become one of the U.S.’s most popular social media apps amid lawmakers’ concerns about its Beijing-based owner ByteDance and questions that user data and algorithms are subject to the Chinese government.
  • When TikTok asked Pappas, a former YouTube executive, to become its U.S. general manager in 2018, the app was little known beyond teenage users. Pappas helped TikTok creators expand their audiences and earn money for their content.
  • Pappas’ role expanded in 2020 when then-CEO Kevin Mayer quit after three months on the job. Pappas stepped in as interim head of TikTok, with a mandate to help it survive politicians’ calls to ban the app. Pappas testified in Congress about the company’s ties to China.

What’s Next: Pappas will remain a strategic advisor to the company, he told employees along with TikTok CEO Shou Chew. Walt Disney veteran Zenia Mucha will become TikTok’s new chief brand and communications officer, and Adam Presser, Chew’s chief of staff, will become the platform’s head of operations.

Janet H. Cho and Eric J. Savitz