The Faces Behind TikTok - A Look Into the Popular Social Media Platform's Org Chart

Bessie LiuOrg Charts
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TikTok App. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

After ByteDance founder Zhang YiMing saw the success of TikTok's sister company Douyin in the Chinese market, he wanted to grow it internationally.

He launched TikTok in September 2016 to tackle the geographical barriers of Douyin, and it has since exploded in popularity globally. With almost 690 monthly active users, the short-video platform is one of the most downloaded social media apps worldwide.

But it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for the company, which has experienced a series of data privacy scandals and a flurry of changes in top level leadership.


In April, eight months after the departure of former CEO Kevin Mayer (who left the company after less than four months on the job) TikTok named ByteDance's CFO, 38-year-old Shouzi Chew, as its new CEO. A Singaporean native who graduated from Harvard Business School, Chew has an impressive record working for some of the largest companies in the world, including Facebook, Goldman Sachs and Xiaomi.

"It's humbling to be entrusted with this responsibility to drive TikTok's unprecedented development as the global home for inspirational and creative content," Shouzi Chew said in a statement. "We will continue building out our strong and deep management team as we set the stage for the next phase of TikTok's success."

Joining Chew as the company's COO is Vanessa Pappas. Pappas previously ran TikTok's North American and ANZ chapters, and served as interim CEO when Mayer stepped down. A graduate of the University of Queensland and The New School, Pappas has previously served as YouTube's Global Head of Creative Insights and Audience Development. She has also worked as a VP of Audience and Strategic Partnerships at Next News Networks.

Recently, Black creators on TikTok have gone on #BlackTikTokStrike after not receiving credit for their creative work. Pappas issued an apology to the Black community on the platform and said it was actively working on "repairing trust" with its Black users.

"We fully acknowledge our responsibility to not simply wish for and talk about the importance of diversity on our platform, but to actively promote and protect it," Pappas said in a statement. "We are inspired by our Black creators, artists, and partners who have touched so many people across the country and around the world. Without them, TikTok would not be the joyful and creative community we aspire to be."

Tasked with improving user experiences on the platform and making it a more inclusive space is Joshua Goodman, the Global Head of Product and Process, Trust and Safety. Goodman currently manages product and program managers at TikTok. He previously served as Facebook's Engineering Director in Content Integrity and was the VP of eCommerce Foundational Technologies at Amazon. The Harvard graduate has also had a 13-year career with Microsoft, where he most recently held the title of Partner Director of Program Management.

After the series of data security controversies involving the Chinese government, TikTok hired Roland Cloutier as its Global Chief Security Officer in April 2020. Cloutier now holds one of the most essential roles in the company -- maintaining user trust. Previously the CSO of payroll services company ADP, Cloutier has over twenty years of experience in security management. The graduate of Boston University served as the CSO of Dell EMC and in senior leadership roles for technology consulting firms.

Without music, TikTok would not be the platform it is today. Leading its corporate development and licensing initiatives is Global Head of Music, Ole Obermann. The UK-based media executive was previously the Chief Digital Officer for Warner Media and has held multiple executive positions at Sony Music Entertainment and Sony BMG Music Entertainment. The Northwestern graduate joined the TikTok team in October 2019.

"My job is to get us licensed and legal," Obermann said in an interview with MusicWeek. "It keeps me up at night and I was communicating that up to the top and everyone agreed, the last thing we wanted was to get into a major public legal battle with a trade body like the NMPA – or any of the big rights-holders, or even any of the smaller rights-holders."

Named in Fortune Magazine’s 40 Under 40, Nick Tran is another executive to watch at TikTok. The 38-year-old currently serves as the company's CMO. Before joining TikTok, The executive was the VP of Brand, Culture, and Marketing at popular streaming site Hulu. He has also served as the Senior Director of Marketing at Samsung and the VP of Marketing at fashion retailer Stance Socks.


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