TikTok said Friday that it had tapped Shouzi Chew as its new CEO, installing a lieutenant from its parent company, ByteDance, to oversee one of its most important and challenging businesses.
The move is a big departure from the hiring of former Disney executive Kevin Mayer, the flashy U.S. executive ByteDance lured to lead TikTok before former President Donald Trump threatened to block the video app last summer. It shows that ByteDance founder and CEO Zhang Yiming is reasserting control of TikTok after the Biden administration recently signaled it wouldn’t soon force him to divest TikTok’s U.S. operations.
Zhang and Chew, who joined ByteDance last month after a more than 5-year stint at Xiaomi, go way back. They met in 2012 when Chew was looking to spot hot deals as a young investor at Yuri Milner’s firm Digital Sky Technologies.
Chew had heard about a then-small company called ByteDance, which was working on its Chinese news app, Toutiao. He went to the small apartment that employees were working out of in Beijing to meet with the startup, two people who know him said. Chew won the deal for DST to invest in ByteDance and forged a relationship with Zhang.