Jun 22, 2023 - Technology

TikTok's most visible U.S. exec steps down

Illustrated collage of TikTok’s logo and a hand holding a phone.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

TikTok chief operating officer V Pappas is stepping down from the company, they announced on Twitter.

Why it matters: TikTok remains under intense pressure from the U.S. government to sell its U.S. operations, as the firm's Chinese ownership raises security and privacy concerns and efforts to ban the app have gained bipartisan steam.

  • Veteran Disney communications head Zenia Mucha is joining TiKTok as its chief brand and communications officer.

The big picture: Pappas has testified before Congress multiple times on TikTok’s data security.

  • In September, Pappas told Congress that “there are strict access controls around the data that is accessed in the United States."
  • But a former ByteDance employee alleged that the controls were much weaker than the company said, Axios’ Ashley Gold writes.

Be smart: Following the resignation of TikTok's U.S. CEO Kevin Mayer in 2020, Pappas served as the company’s face of U.S. operations, taking on much of the public relations and government affairs pressure the company has faced.

  • Mucha is considered one of the most tenured and respected crisis communications professionals in the world. She led Disney’s communications and public relations strategy for two decades.

In addition, Adam Presser, currently TikTok's chief of staff, will become TikTok's head of operations, CEO Shou Chew announced in an email to the company's staff.

  • Pappas will continue to serve as a strategic adviser, Chew said.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with details throughout.

Go deeper