© Reuters. ByteDance’s Growing Influence on TikTok Sparks Employee Concerns.
Quiver Quantitative – TikTok’s efforts to distance itself from its China-based parent company, ByteDance, are facing internal skepticism. Over the past year, multiple high-ranking executives from ByteDance have transferred to TikTok, occupying critical roles in the video-sharing app’s revenue-generating sectors. Many have shifted from ByteDance’s Beijing base, overseeing critical areas like TikTok’s advertising business, human resources, and business marketing. Such movements have spurred concerns among U.S-based TikTok employees, who fear that ByteDance has a more significant influence on TikTok’s operations than publicly acknowledged.
This sentiment was exacerbated by recent personnel shifts, where ByteDance executives began to play pivotal roles in TikTok’s operations and monetization strategies. For instance, Qing Lan, who was deeply involved with the Chinese version of TikTok, Douyin, now helms a division poised to contribute to 20% of TikTok’s ad revenue. Furthermore, other influential US employees have exited, and some of their responsibilities were assumed by ByteDance transferees, fueling the perception of ByteDance’s growing dominance in TikTok.
Cultural clashes have surfaced as these changes unfold. Some TikTok employees in San Jose were reportedly advised to work extended hours akin to their Chinese counterparts to achieve satisfactory performance ratings. Additionally, there have been accounts of meetings conducted in Chinese, causing discomfort for non-Chinese speaking staff, despite the company’s directive for English to be the meeting language.
While TikTok has consistently tried to project its autonomy from ByteDance, especially amidst regulatory concerns, these internal dynamics suggest an intricate intertwining between the two entities. The shifts are perceived humorously by some TikTok employees, joking that instead of distancing TikTok from ByteDance, ByteDance is essentially moving to the U.S., underscored by the opening of a significant ByteDance office in San Jose, California.