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When TikTok was the title sponsor last summer for Vidcon, an annual convention for the creators and brands that make up a key part of the short-form video app’s audience and business, it was Chief Operating Officer Vanessa Pappas who got on stage for the industry keynote event.

Months later, when TikTok was grilled by Congress over privacy and security concerns, Pappas was the TikTok executive in the hot seat fielding questions.

But while Pappas has arguably been the public face of the company for much of the past few tumultuous years, she has done so while acting as TikTok’s second-in-command. The person who has actually served as the CEO of one of the most popular apps on the planet for nearly two years is a longtime tech finance executive named Shou Zi Chew, based thousands of miles away from Washington, in Singapore.

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