Shouzi Chew, the CFO of ByteDance, got a new job title on Friday: CEO of TikTok. Vanessa Pappas, who's been running the company on an interim basis since Kevin Mayer left only weeks into his tenure, will now be TikTok's COO.
"The leadership team of Shou and Vanessa sets the stage for sustained growth," ByteDance CEO Yiming Zhang said in a statement. "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."
Chew has only been at ByteDance since the end of March, after working as Xiaomi's CFO since 2015. He has plenty of experience that will be relevant to TikTok: He helped spearhead Xiaomi's massive IPO, and before that worked at DST Global, which is a significant and early investor in ByteDance.
He's based in Singapore, which gives TikTok an important global center outside of both China and the U.S. (Though he does serve as CFO of a Beijing-based company, so his home address may only go but so far.) And by all accounts, he's taking over the company at a much better moment than Kevin Mayer did in 2020. While it's theoretically still under the microscope of CFIUS and the White House, the top-down effort to ban TikTok or force its sale to a U.S. company seems to have at least stalled for now.
TikTok grew like wildfire during the pandemic, and appears unlikely to slow down: a recent Pew study found that 55% of Americans aged 18 to 24 use TikTok, and its effect on culture only continues to boom. Instead of taking over a company in chaos, Chew is now at the helm of an increasingly unstoppable entertainment force.
David Pierce (
@pierce) is Protocol's editor at large. Prior to joining Protocol, he was a columnist at The Wall Street Journal, a senior writer with Wired, and deputy editor at The Verge. He owns all the phones.