ByteDance is reportedly working to move the bulk of leadership and R&D resources for its subsidiary TikTok out of China.
People familiar with the matter tell Reuters that ByteDance’s decision to bring in former Disney exec Kevin Mayer as its own COO and as CEO of TikTok is “just the most visible part” of an overall plan to move operations for all non-China-focused businesses to other areas.
The strategy reportedly covers a number of ByteDance’s subsidiary businesses, including Indian social networking app Helo. But the one ByteDance appears to be focusing on most is TikTok–which probably isn’t surprising, considering that as the shortform video app has skyrocketed in popularity with American teens, it’s garnered more and more scrutiny from government officials concerned the Chinese government might be using TikTok to censor U.S. users’ content or access their personal data.
.@tiktok_us previously told me they couldn’t attend hearings and testify because executives were located in #China. But this new executive lives in the USA. I look forward to hearing from him. Under oath. https://t.co/XPfiVpo9Ta
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) May 18, 2020
A big part of what ByteDance is doing with TikTok involves moving its engineering and R&D operations stateside, sources tell Reuters. Until recently, they say, TikTok’s engineering team has been mostly China-based, and all engineers have been overseen by managers in China. But now, TikTok has reportedly hired more than 150 new engineers to work out of its campus in Mountain View, Calif., and it’s in the process of recruiting a high-level executive to run engineering from the U.S. (Worth noting: a report from earlier this month indicated TikTok has also been expanding its London-based engineering team.)
And that forthcoming engineering executive won’t be the only one taking over responsibilities formerly handled by China-based execs. Sources say ByteDance has hired New York-based former SoftBank investor Michelle Huang to head up investor relations, a sector that was previously overseen in Beijing. And newly hired Mayer will reportedly handle “many” areas–including global corporate development–which used to go through ByteDance’s China headquarters.
ByteDance is also hiring engineers outside of the U.S., namely in Singapore, Jakarta, and Warsaw, Reuters reports.
Tubefilter has reached out to ByteDance for comment and will update this story with any new information.