The Brag Media
News August 31, 2020

Australian exec named TikTok interim CEO as Sydney-based company deemed ‘priority’

Australian exec named TikTok interim CEO as Sydney-based company deemed ‘priority’

TikTok has tapped an Australian executive to lead its global operations amid an ugly legal battle with Donald Trump’s administration.

Vanessa Pappas takes the reins as interim head following the surprise departure last week of Kevin Mayer, who blamed a sharp change in the “political environment” on the way out.

Mayer, the former Disney executive who oversaw the launch of the Disney+ streaming platform, had joined TikTok less than three months earlier.

Pappas’ promotion is a merit-based one.

The incoming chief oversaw a huge spike in user numbers as general manager of the U.S. arm of TikTok since January 2019, and has guided the Australia and New Zealand operations since June last year.

“Incredibly proud and humbled,” she said on taking the new, temporary gig.

“It’s truly amazing what we’ve accomplished in 2 years, I have no doubt what we can accomplish in this next chapter!”

The next chapter is already unfolding. And it’s promises to be a political minefield.

A graduate of the University of Queensland and a former Google and YouTube executive, Pappas takes on the top job just days after TikTok fired back at Trump’s executive order to ban the service in the United States.

In a complaint, TikTok claims that Trump’s order “poses an existential threat to the company’s U.S. business” and questioned whether the President had the authority to effectively cancel Americans’ free speech.

“To be clear, we far prefer constructive dialogue over litigation,” reads a statement from TikTok. “But with the Executive Order threatening to bring a ban on our U.S. 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.”



As it returned legal fire at Trump, TikTok gave reporters a rare look at its numbers.

The China-based business reported that its monthly active users stateside grew from 11.2 million in Jan. 2018 to more than 100 million, a multiple of nearly nine in less than three years.

The ByteDance-owned company’s daily active U.S. user base is estimated at about 50 million.

Globally, the app raced past 2 billion downloads worldwide in August 2020.

That headline number includes Australia, which is said to be a “priority” market for TikTok and which is deep into the process of beefing up its executive team.

As previously reported, triple j veteran Ollie Wards today (Aug. 31) joins TikTok as director of music for Australia and New Zealand, a new role, following a recruitment drive to fill at least nine positions.

Ollie Wards with TikTok logo

Ollie Wards

A TikTok spokeswoman told ABC News the company was keen to grow operations here at a “rapid pace”.

“This includes hiring the right local talent to support the Australian TikTok community across the content, operations and commercial side of the business,” the spokesperson added.

“We are also investing further in our local users, creators and brands.

“We see huge opportunities to further scale at a rapid pace in Australia and this continues to be a priority market.”

Microsoft and Walmart are among the corporations said to be considering buying TikTok by the Trump-imposed deadline of September 15.

This article originally appeared on The Industry Observer, which is now part of The Music Network.

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