TikTok COO Pappas Steps Down

Vanessa Pappas, the chief operating officer of TikTok, has resigned to refocus on her ‘entrepreneurial passions’

TikTok’s Chief Operating Officer Vanessa Pappas has resigned after five years working at the popular short-video platform.

Pappas confirmed that she had quit in a Twitter post, and included a memo sent to staff explaining her reasons for departing.

Pappas said she will still stay at TikTok in an advisory role, but her departure comes amid growing national security pressure in the United States and elsewhere over its ownership by Beijing-based ByteDance.

ByteDance, TikTok
TikTok owner ByteDance. Image credit: ByteDance

Pappas resignation

“After nearly 5 years at TikTok I am stepping down as COO,” tweeted Pappas. “To our amazing community of creators, employees, & people who have made TikTok ‘the last sunny spot on the internet’, it has been an absolute privilege to serve you all & to be a part of this once in a lifetime journey.”

Pappas in her memo to staff said that given the “successes reached at TikTok, I feel the time is finally right to move on and refocus on my entrepreneurial passions.”

Pappas had been the US face of TikTok for years, making announcements for the company and speaking about its upcoming strategy and programming.

She even served as TikTok’s interim CEO for a while.

More recently, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew has taken a more public role.

TikTok chief executive Shou Zi Chew. Image credit: TikTok
TikTok chief executive Shou Zi Chew. Image credit: TikTok

This included when Chew spoke before a congressional committee in March, saying the Chinese government did not have access to data held by the US TikTok subsidiary, which he said is stored within the country.

The resignation of Pappas comes after Eric Han, TikTok’s head of trust and safety in the US, announced last month that he was leaving the company.

Executive lawsuit

Also in May this year, TikTok owner ByteDance was hit with a lawsuit by a former executive that accused it of a “culture of lawlessness”.

The lawsuit by Yu Yintao, who worked for the company from 2017 to 2018 alleged that that at the time he worked for ByteDance Chinese Communist Party officials had direct access to US user data.

Yintao was formerly head of engineering for ByteDance’s US operations, and he also accused ByteDance of serving “as a useful propaganda tool for the Chinese Communist Party”.