ByteDance names new global head of R&D at TikTok

Photo: REUTERS

Beijing-based ByteDance plans to move the chief of its Chinese news aggregator Jinri Toutiao, Zhu Wenjia, to Singapore to head global research and development for its hit short video app TikTok, two people familiar with the matter said.

The role is newly created and would be the first senior R&D position for TikTok. Zhu will be in charge of the app’s product and technologies including its recommendation algorithms, the people said.

His position will be parallel to TikTok’s interim head, Vanessa Pappas, and will report directly to ByteDance founder and Chief Executive Zhang Yiming, they said.

ByteDance declined to comment. The sources declined to be named as the information is not public.

TikTok had come under pressure from the Trump administration in the United States to divest the app’s U.S. operations over concerns that user data could be passed on to China, which TikTok has repeatedly denied.

Reuters reported last year that TikTok had moved its key research capabilities outside China and had approached employees from tech giants like Google for a senior engineering role.

U.S. investors, including Oracle Corp and Walmart Inc, have discussed with ByteDance taking a majority stake in TikTok’s American operations.

The White House under Biden has said it is keeping risks TikTok may present to U.S. data under review, but stressed it has taken no new “proactive step” relating to the pending TikTok deal, Reuters reported earlier this month.

Kevin Chen, a former Didi Chuxing executive who recently joined ByteDance, will replace Zhu as Toutiao’s new CEO, the sources said, adding that the personnel changes have not been internally announced and are still subject to change.

Zhu, now based in Beijing, joined ByteDance in 2015 and became Toutiao’s CEO in 2019. Prior to ByteDance, he worked as an architect at China’s search engine giant Baidu.

In September, Reuters reported that ByteDance planned to invest billions of dollars and recruit hundreds of employees for its new Southeast Asia regional headquarters in Singapore.

Reuters

 

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

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Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

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  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.