When the public face of TikTok’s management in the U.S.—V Pappas, TikTok’s chief operating officer—announced their departure last month, it marked the biggest shake-up in the top ranks of the popular short-form video app since its CEO, Shou Zi Chew, took over the job two years ago. To people inside TikTok, though, it wasn’t a surprise.
The departure of Pappas—and their replacement by Adam Presser, Chew’s former chief of staff—was the culmination of months of growing tensions between TikTok’s No. 2 executive and Chew. Since last year, the Singapore-based Chew had been chipping away at Pappas’ power while TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, has poured money into teams outside Pappas’ oversight, such as e-commerce and livestreaming, which he hopes will help TikTok invigorate growth and eventually turn a profit.