TikTok has appointed Singaporean ByteDance CFO Shouzi Chew as CEO. Chew will be based in Singapore, while remaining as ByteDance’s CFO. According to his LinkedIn Chew was previously CFO and partner, director, president of International at Xiaomi Technology for over five years. Prior to joining ByteDance earlier this year, Chew held a number of senior roles with global mandates in the technology and investment community. In 2013 he led a team that became one of the earliest investors in the company. He is based in his hometown of Singapore.
According to the company, the move was a “strategic reorganisation to optimise TikTok's global teams” and support the company's “unprecedented growth". Yiming Zhang, founder and CEO of ByteDance said, Chew 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."
The role was previously held by chairman of direct-to-consumer and international division of The Walt Disney Company Kevin Mayer. However, Mayer left not long after due to the increasing political tensions felt by the company to sell its US operations. In light of his departure GM of TikTok, Vanessa Pappas was leading the company. According to multiple media reports tech giants such as Microsoft and Oracle were all at one point eyeing the purchase of its assets.
With the current reshuffle, Pappas will continuing with her current responsibilities and formally take on the role of COO. "The leadership team of Chew and Pappas sets the stage for sustained growth," said Zhang. " Pappas has provided strong leadership and will continue to oversee her current portfolio of responsibilities, including managing all of the platform's key operations."
"It's humbling to be entrusted with this responsibility, and to partner with great leaders such as Pappas to drive TikTok's unprecedented development as the global home for inspirational and creative content," said Chew. "We will continue building out our strong and deep management team as we set the stage for the next phase of TikTok's success."
"It's truly gratifying to have the opportunity to support the most creative and inspiring community out there, and to work alongside a management team that fully believes in that community," said TikTok COO Pappas. "I'm excited to deepen my partnership with Chew, and develop an even richer TikTok platform to provide people around the world a meaningful and entertaining experience. The TikTok journey is just beginning."
Meanwhile, ByteDance has in recent times been priming Singapore as the main foothold for Asia as part of its global expansion. It seeks to spend "several billion dollars and add hundreds of jobs" over the next three years in Singapore. According to industry experts, Singapore has always played an important role for Chinese tech companies. As such it comes as no surprise that TikTok’s new CEO will be based out of Singapore.
TikTok has also been looking to hire tech talent across SEA to build on its eCommerce offering. On LinkedIn, the social media platform has posted for jobs for data engineers, software engineers, and tech leads in Singapore under its TikTok eCommerce arm. Similarly, it has opened up nine job opportunities for eCommerce in Indonesia, including user and campaign operation specialist, category lead, business development, and customer service specialist.
This comes after TikTok was reportedly planning "an aggressive expansion" into eCommerce in the United States, according to The Financial Times, which quoted its sources. The video-hosting app is said to have briefed advertisers on "a number of new features" it will be rolling out this year. This includes a tool that allows selected users to share links to products and earn commission for any sales converted, even if they are not sponsored by the brands.
In an earlier conversation, Mark Greeven, professor of innovation and strategy IMD Business School in Switzerland and Singapore, told Marketing that Singapore’s geographic location is also a springboard into other large markets such as Malaysia and Indonesia make it an ideal location. Greeven noted that the on-going tech tension probably accelerated this trend, and Chinese tech companies are also increasingly deepening their focus in Asia.
Besides being well-placed geographically in Southeast Asia with a growing middle class, Wladmir Silva, APAC chief development officer, head of consumer, Grace Blue Partnership said Singapore has also become a great transportation hub with a reliable airport and port. Additionally, decades of economic and political stability, a well-educated population and having English as an official language are also other factors that make Singapore an attractive location for foreign investment.