Is ByteDance Naming A CEO Whose Background Is China Tech The Right Decsion For TikTok’s International Growth

Vanessa Pappas Has Been The Interim Head Of TikTok Since August Of Last Year, Leading TikTok Through The Pandemic And The Trump Administration’s Campaign To Shutdown Or Sell Off The American-Based Chinese Tech Company.

Leading Parent Company ByteDance Named A Singaporean-Native Shou Zi Chew As TikTok’s New CEO. Shou Zi Chew Was ByteDance’s CFO For Two Months Before Taking Over As TikTok’s CEO, While Continuing To Be Based In Singapore – Not The United States.

Will Pappas Remain, Or Will She Follow Her Old Boss Kevin Mayer After Three Months As TikTok’s CEO, Or Christie Fleischer Leaving Netflix As Head of Consumer Products In Just One Year? Both Who Were Former Long-Term Disney Execs.

By Ryan Carroll, Managing Editor.

May, 2021


TikTok is facing two major questions with this recent announcement from ByteDance and its CEO Zhang Yiming: Will a Singaporean whose background is in venture capitol and private equity, before working for Xiaomi Technology, the Chinese mid-range smartphone company, for over 5 years as its CFO be the right choice for an American-Based social media company?

In his last year and a half at Xiaomi, Shou Zi Chew was named; Partner, Director, President of International (according to his LinkedIn profile), which may be a hint to what ByteDance is planning for TikTok.

Shou Zi Chew has an extensive background with Xiaomi, even before the 5+ years he worked there. He was a Partner at DST Investment Management in Hong Kong for 5 years, reportedly holding a key part in its Russian parent company DST Global’s investment into Xiaomi Technology.

Moving directly from DST Investment Management to Xiaomi as its CFO.

DST Global is one of the largest investment firms worldwide and was founded by Russia’s leading tech investor Yuri Milner. DST Global is known to have links to the Kremlin, providing large investment deals for Kremlin-owned, Kremlin-controlled firms, and a state-owned multinational energy company.

DST Global’s investment, on behalf of these Kremlin deals led the U.S. government sanctions DST Global. Most notably in investments into Twitter and Facebook’s IPO.

Is Shou Zi Chew’s placement as CEO a sign that TikTok is moving its focus of growth away from the U.S. / West, to focus on expanding into immerging markets. Where they feel TikTok would have less potential political interference; such as, Greater Asia, SE Asia, Russia, and Africa?

As these markets have had greater penetration by Xiaomi under the time Shou Zi Chew was at the company, and his potential ties to Russian tech investment could also serve useful.

If this is true, then with Shou Zi Chew being based in Singapore and his background exclusively working in China or Greater China, except for a 2 year stint at Goldman Sachs in London after his undergraduate studies at University College London and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Moving away from the West’s viable concern over TikTok’s security (data) threat? And, will Pappas stay on or should we expect her exit within the year?

Vanessa Pappas spent nearly a year as the Global Interim Head of TikTok, and being arguably the behind-the-scenes guru for TikTok’s explosive growth in the U.S. Joining the team as General Manage in Q4 of 2018, after being a Strategic Advisor to ByteDance two-months prior to that. With TikTok only officially launching, via, in Q3 of that same year.

Pappas had many believing that she would be eventually named as CEO of the company, but with all the fervor of Kevin Mayer being named CEO of TikTok, and COO of ByteDance, his tenure was short lived.

Before TikTok Pappas was the known key strategist for Audience Development, Creator Growth, Loyalty, and Creator Content Creation at YouTube; and for developing the YouTube Creator Handbook while there.

If Pappas is being pushed aside for a man, appearing to be handpicked by ByteDance’s CEO Zhang Yiming, after being ByteDance’s CFO for three months before taking over as TikTok’s CEO. Whose background is working for a Beijing-based China-owned smart device company. A Chinese tech company that was able to move into non-Chinese emerging markets due to its affordability, flash sales, and decent quality for price, the right choice for a content creator driven video app?

If this is the case, then expect Pappas to have moved on to bigger and better things by the end of this year.

Stay Tuned China Watchers!

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About the Author

Born and raised in the Missouri-Ozarks Ryan studied Film Production, and East Asian Culture, at the University of Kansas where he was a UGRA recipient that led him on a seven-year long, Journey From the West, to China. Where he worked with Warner Brothers, the China Film Group Corp. and the National Bureau of Statistics of China. Before returning to the States, where he specializes in Chinese Anime & Comics, China’s Box-Office, and Chinese entertainment-tech industries. He has a dog in China, Abigail, and a dog in the Arkansas-Ozarks, King Blue, who help ease his anxiety of suffering from the “Two-Dimensional Complex” that is trying to understand the Culture Industry landscapes of the Middle Kingdom.