TikTok names Aussie as new CEO
An Australian woman has taken over as head of the controversial Chinese social network TikTok overnight after the shock resignation of its chief executive officer less than 100 days into the job.
Vanessa Pappas, who had been serving as TikTok's general manager in the US, Australia and New Zealand, and has developed a reputation as one of its most outspoken defenders, confirmed her new role on social media.
The major personnel changes come at a pivotal moment for the company, coming just days after TikTok sued the US Government for forcing it to sell its American operations or leave the country within 90 days, and just weeks before its deadline to do so.
Ms Pappas, who graduated from the University of Queensland in 2000 before leaving for London and the US, will now take on the top role at the $US75 billion ($A103bn) tech firm as it faces its biggest challenge to date.
"Incredibly proud and humbled to take the role of interim head of TikTok," Ms Pappas said on social media overnight.
"Our community and our team who work so hard to enable this product continue to inspire me.
"It's truly amazing what we've accomplished in two years, I have no doubt what we can accomplish in this next chapter!"
Before joining TikTok late in 2018, Ms Pappas spent seven years at YouTube, becoming its global head of creative insights in 2015.
She has worked as the general manager of TikTok's US operations since January last year, and took over Australian and New Zealand oversight in July last year.
Ms Pappas will step into the role vacated by former Disney executive Kevin Mayer, who shocked employees at TikTok and its Chinese parent company ByteDance with his resignation announcement yesterday.
Mr Mayer announced his move in a letter to staff, blaming sharp changes to the "political environment" and the "corporate structural changes" it would require at TikTok, according to the Financial Times.
"I understand that the role that I signed up for - including running TikTok globally - will look very different as a result of the US Administration's action to push for a sell-off of the US business," he wrote.
TikTok has come under worldwide scrutiny in countries including Australia due to its Chinese ownership, past security flaws, and fears it could be used to gather intelligence from users.
India banned TikTok from use in June due to security concerns, and US President Donald Trump issued an executive order this month, stating that the company could have access to "Americans' personal and proprietary information" and ordering it to divest its US operations by September 15.
A second executive order has extended the deadline until November 12.
In a statement released earlier this week, TikTok outlined plans to sue the US Government over its potential ban, arguing that the administration did not give the company "due process" and ignored "our extensive efforts to address its concerns".
"To be clear, we far prefer constructive dialogue over litigation," the company's statement read.
"But with the Executive Order threatening to bring a ban on our US operations - eliminating the creation of 10,000 American jobs and irreparably harming the millions of Americans who turn to this app for entertainment, connection, and legitimate livelihoods that are vital especially during the pandemic - we simply have no choice."
Despite the lawsuit, it's understood that TikTok is hosting ongoing negotiations with several big tech firms to sell its US arm, including Microsoft and Oracle.
Originally published as TikTok names Aussie as new CEO