TikTok has opened up shop in Australia

Photo by Kon Karampelas on Unsplash

  • TikTok has opened an office in Australia, hiring former Google executive Lee Hunter as its General Manager.
  • The establishment of a Sydney base comes as the popularity of TikTok in Australia continues to rise.
  • Hunter explained some of the company’s upcoming plans to Business Insider Australia.

TikTok has opened an office in Australia as the short-form video app’s popularity continues to rise in the country.

Joining the new Sydney office as TikTok Australia General Manager is former Google and YouTube executive Lee Hunter. His primary focus will be bringing new, Australian content to the platform and overseeing its safety policies.

Hunter told Business Insider Australia the opening of the office comes following a spike in growth in Australia amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“We thought the growth was pretty good prior to the lockdown,” he said. “TikTok became the place that so many people flocked to during coronavirus. It really just spurred us on to make sure we get the local team in place as soon as we can.”

The Australian office has also hired other team members, with fellow ex-Googler Brett Armstrong coming on as General Manager for Global Business Solutions in Australia. Brent Thomas is the Director of Public Policy for Australia while Arjun Narayan Bettadapur Manjunath is the Head of Trust & Safety, managing TikTok’s APAC team in Singapore.

The Australian operation will focus on everything from users and creators to partners and local brands.

“The big goal that I have is to truly embed TikTok at the heart of Australian culture,” Hunter said.

“The team we’re building here is focused on the Australian component of TikTok and celebrating those voices and making sure that we take advantage of all the great creativity and expression we have in this country.”

Australia and TikTok

TikTok has signed on General Managers in the US, the UK, India, Japan, and Canada over the past 18 months, with Australia now added to the list.

“We are delighted by the positive response to TikTok in Australia and have been inspired by the remarkable creativity across Australia,” Vanessa Pappas, General Manager of TikTok US – who also oversees ANZ and North America – said in a statement.

“As we continue to build a positive and safe environment for users, our focus is on hiring the right local talent and strengthening our local leadership team to best support the Australian TikTok community.”

However, the lack of diversity in the team so far has raised eyebrows. In response, Hunter said the company is “committed to diversity and inclusion”.

“Unequivocally, we believe the strength in diversity of our community is what makes our platform such an amazing and wonderful place,” he said. “As our new team continues to grow, we are committed to diversity and inclusion. This isn’t just important for our organisational culture, it’s a key to the success of the platform.”

TikTok and the Doherty Institue

TikTok is donating $3 million to The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, as the organisation continues to work in the fight against the coronavirus.

Hunter said TikTok has played an important role for many young Australians throughout the pandemic.

“It was a place they came to either express themselves or just put a smile in their day,” he said. “And, in part, the donation is recognising that connection that TikTok has had during the lockdown and wanting to give something back.”

With the new Sydney base, TikTok is looking forward to recruiting more employees and growing the platform in Australia.

“One of the first things we’re doing is reaching out to all of the people that are either on TikTok, should be on TikTok or can help us continually improve… just letting them know, we’re here,” Hunter said. “And we really want to put ourselves in the heart of what’s happening in Australia.”

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