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.
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.
PageOne had 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.