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TikTok wants people to think it has left its parent company’s Chinese-based nest. The problem: making that idea believable.
At least three former senior TikTok leaders have claimed that they were instructed to take direction from ByteDance—limiting their decision-making abilities within the company. In total, at least five execs have resigned over the issue. One said that those hired in U.S.-based leadership positions have had their workload shifted to the Beijing office. And a number of former employees working in product, engineering, and strategy were instructed to go straight to ByteDance leadership.
TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew is based in Singapore. Former employees recently claimed that his power over the company remains limited, even though the company told Forbes that Chew is responsible for product and strategy decisions.
Last week, TikTok COO Vanessa Pappas testified before the Senate Homeland Security Committee alongside executives from other social media companies at a hearing dedicated to social media’s role in national security. Pappas pushed to distance TikTok from Bytedance. She denied reports that ByteDance employees have accessed U.S. TikTok users’ data, and she said TikTok does not send user data to the Chinese government.
The company handles data collection and its potential risk to national security has long been under fire—it was the basis for former President Trump’s attempt to ban the app back in 2020. Efforts to ban TikTok over its connection to China were renewed a few months ago. The company has since brought in Oracle to host its U.S. user data in an effort to publicly separate itself from ByteDance. But Oracle has its own data protection problems, and it currently faces a class action lawsuit over claims that the company used personal data to increase revenue.
Vanessa Pappas’ answers reflect the company’s overall strategy: to present TikTok as its own entity. In June, leaked documents revealed that the company intends to “downplay the parent company ByteDance” and “downplay the China association.” That disclosure led to another leak claiming TikTok apparently hired people to prevent internal leaks—not a great look.TikTok wants the public to view the company as emancipated from its parent company. But President Joe Biden is apparently considering an executive order that would restrict how Chinese companies collect American data—potentially further complicating TikTok’s efforts. — Kristin Snyder
NASA’s upcoming DART mission aims to change planetary defense forever by proving that it’s possible to deflect a world-ending asteroid away from the Earth.
Building a startup isn't always easy. dot.LA co-founder and former Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff offers some hard-won advice on how to handle setbacks.
Los Angeles-based Therabody inked $165M in fresh funding from Kevin Hart's HartBeat Ventures, LLC and Aaron Rodgers' Rx3 Ventures. See all this week's raises by SoCal companies in our weekly roundup.
The health and wellness platform SimplePractice hired Compass' head of mobile development Ian Knox to serve as their chief product officer. Check out our weekly "Moves" section to see all this week's career shifts.
On this episode of Office Hours, Blackstone's Jon Korngold joined host Spencer Rascoff to discuss his company's unconventional approach to growth investing.
Help us shine a light on the best startups and founders in Southern California - submit a nomination for the 2022 dot.LA Startup Awards! Winners in the six categories will be announced at our annual Summit on October 21st. Register for the Summit here. Browse the categories and nominate a startup or individual before entries close Friday, October 7th. Questions? Email awards@dot.LA.
What We’re Reading...
- EV manufacturer Faraday Future claims it can't start building their electric cars till they get to the bottom of this international conspiracy against them.
- LA community college students now ride the Metro for free thanks to a $1M congressional grant. Wait, we have a Metro?
- Speaking of, Los Angeles thinks it can beat New York in quickest public transit city rebound after COVID.
- LA may be a growing tech hub, but Silicon Beach's single -family-zoning laws present a hurdle and possible brain drain.