V. Pappas, the chief operating officer of TikTok, has resigned, as first reported by The Information. In a memo Pappas posted to Twitter, they informed staff that they will no longer work as COO of the company, as they believe the ”time is right to move on and refocus.” Pappas will still stay at TikTok in an advisory role.
“Given all the successes reached at TikTok, I finally feel the time is right to move on and refocus on my entrepreneurial passions,” Pappas writes. “Few had imagined what the last five years would look like and with all the incredible innovation happening now with generative AI, robotics, renewable energy, genomics, blockchain and the IoT, clearly the future will again look much different.”
The news of Pappas’ resignation comes as TikTok faces renewed government scrutiny over the ties of its parent company, ByteDance, to China. Last month, Eric Han, TikTok’s head of trust and safety in the US, announced that he was leaving the company.
When reached for comment, TikTok provided The Verge with an emailed copy of the memo TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew sent to employees. Chew says Adam Presser, TikTok’s current chief of staff, will become TikTok’s head of operations, while Zenia Mucha, who worked at Disney for two decades, is joining TikTok as the chief brand and communications officer.
Pappas, for many years, was effectively the US face of TikTok, making announcements for the company and speaking about its upcoming strategy and programming. More recently, Chew has taken a more prominent and public role, appearing before Congress and even popping up in TikTok videos to talk directly to users.
“As we embark on this next chapter, we are grateful to Zenia and Adam for their support and enthusiasm, and look forward to working closely with them as we evolve and Grow Together,” Chew writes. “I’d also like to thank V. again for their contributions and continued commitment to the company. This is an important time for our company, and I am confident that we are in a strong position to match the opportunities ahead of us.”
Prior to TikTok, Pappas worked at YouTube for close to eight years, heading audience and insights teams. They became the US general manager of TikTok in 2018. Pappas was the interim CEO of TikTok for a short period of time, starting in 2020, before becoming COO in April 2021.
Several states across the US are taking steps to ban TikTok, with Montana being the first to sign a bill to ban the app starting next year. The federal government is also looking to put restrictions on the app across the country with the proposed bipartisan RESTRICT Act.
Here is Chew’s full email to employees:
We have some important changes coming to our leadership team that I want to share with all of you.
After nearly five years as a valued leader on TikTok’s executive team, V. Pappas has decided to step down to refocus on their entrepreneurial passions. As part of that, they will be exiting as COO, and in addition to their new pursuits will be serving as a strategic advisor to the company. I want to take this opportunity to thank V for their many contributions over the years. Throughout their time at TikTok, they have been instrumental in growing the business, advocating for the company, elevating our product offerings and marketing campaigns, and fostering a positive community of creators and users. They have had a significant and lasting impact and we are truly grateful for their tireless efforts. I know V is looking forward to this next phase in their career, and we wish them all the best in their new capacity and future endeavors.
As we continue to evolve our organizational structure, I am pleased to share the following new changes. Adam Presser, current TikTok Chief of Staff, will become TikTok’s Head of Operations. 20-year Disney veteran Zenia Mucha will join the company in the new role of TikTok’s Chief Brand and Communications Officer.
In his new role as Head of Operations, Adam will assume responsibility for Global Operations, which includes Content, User Operations, and Distribution, while continuing to lead the Project Management Office. In this capacity, he will seek to further develop the voices of TikTok’s vibrant and diverse ecosystem and drive closer cross-divisional strategic planning and collaboration, in an effort to bring to life our mission of inspiring creativity and bringing joy to people by nurturing and supporting creators, users, and partners worldwide.
Lindsay Thomas and Kim Pham will join the Project Management Office and Nicole Iacopetti, Isaac Bess, Seth Melnick, and the Regional Operations and Marketing Leads - Rich Waterworth, Kim Farrell, Yoichi Sato, Angga Putra, Kinda Ibrahim, and Marisa Hammonds - will report to Adam.
Since joining TikTok in April 2022, Adam has led the TikTok PMO (Project Management Office) team, responsible for driving strategic planning, supporting the execution of business priorities, and guiding the development and implementation of key initiatives that are meaningfully impacting the company. Over the past year, he led the project management of EU Data Security (Project Clover), supported key Government Relations and Comms-led efforts, and has driven TikTok business strategy and alignment in pursuit of our 3-5-year plan. Prior to joining TikTok, Adam served as Executive Vice President, International at WarnerMedia, and the Head of WarnerMedia China, Australia, and New Zealand. Adam’s mandate across these regions included the distribution and marketing of WarnerMedia’s global films and TV series, the production of local language films and TV series, the operations of the company’s TV networks and the management of its ancillary businesses such as Games, Consumer Products, and Themed Experiences. In addition, he also led WarnerMedia International Home Entertainment Licensing.
In her new role as TikTok’s Chief Brand and Communications Officer, Zenia will focus on advancing the strategic vision of our brand and advising key businesses. She will be in charge of overseeing the following key corporate functions: Global Marketing and Global Communications.
Zenia brings vast experience and expertise from the entertainment industry and we are eager for her to hit the ground running. As Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Communications Officer for The Walt Disney Company, she led a 500-person global media relations team and played a key role in elevating Disney to one of the most admired companies in the world. Zenia served as Disney’s top spokesperson for over two decades, leading communications for all of Disney’s strategic business initiatives, including the acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, and 21st Century Fox, as well as the launch of D23, the first-ever official Disney fan club, with members in 35+ countries, and the opening of Disney’s first theme park and resort in Mainland China, Shanghai Disney Resort. Throughout her career, Zenia has had an extraordinary track record of advising the highest-level corporate executives on strategic and crisis communications, media and investor relations, reputation management, brand optimization, and employee relations.
I’ve been fortunate to spend a lot of time with Zenia over the last few months in her role as a consultant and have greatly benefited from her counsel and perspective. She has tremendous instincts and has a strong vision for how best to grow and support the business. She and I agree that in the spirit of Always Day 1, it is essential that we widen the aperture of our Marketing and Communications functions to further fortify TikTok as a beloved brand and one of the most trusted entertainment platforms in the world. With Zenia’s vast expertise and deep experience, we are well positioned to do so effectively.
Kate Jhaveri, Jodi Seth, Hilary McQuaide, Erin Fors, and the Regional Communications Leads - Sophy Silver, Renata Polatti, Irina Pavlova, Rola Abu Hassan, Cheryl Long, and Tsubasa Sato - will report to Zenia.
As we embark on this next chapter, we are grateful to Zenia and Adam for their support and enthusiasm, and look forward to working closely with them as we evolve and Grow Together. I’d also like to thank V again for their contributions and continued commitment to the company. This is an important time for our company, and I am confident that we are in a strong position to match the opportunities ahead of us. Thanks for all you continue to do and keep up the great work!