ByteDance in Singapore poaches new head from one of Google’s top teams

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ByteDance in Singapore poaches new head from one of Google’s top teams

ByteDance, the Chinese tech company behind the wildly successful short-form video app TikTok, has hired Arjun Narayan from Google as its Singapore-based director of trust and safety (T&S) for APAC operations. Narayan was poached from Google’s expanding T&S team in Singapore, where he was most recently global head of trust and safety scaled operations.

Narayan’s 15 years of experience at Google should stand him in good stead at ByteDance. Company founder Zhang Yiming told Reuters last week that he wanted to run ByteDance in the image of Google and Facebook, even as it faces a national security review by the US government over TikTok’s data practices.

Narayan’s move comes as ByteDance – which also owns brands such as Vigo Video and Lark, the Singapore-based workplace productivity app – looks to expand its Singapore headcount, driven by the increasing popularity of TikTok across Southeast Asia. ByteDance set up a WeWork office in Singapore in 2018 to serve as the hub for its operations in the region and a spokesperson told the Straits Times last May that the company was “growing” its teams there.

The tech firm appears to be hiring in large numbers so far this year, despite the outbreak of the coronavirus. It has 67 experienced-level Singapore-based jobs on its careers page, including 20 engineering ones.

ByteDance is now reportedly set to move into a larger office in One Raffles Quay, and Singapore is under consideration as a global headquarters for its TikTok brand as the firm attempts to shake off its Chinese image, according to the Wall Street Journal. Zhang said in a letter to employees last week that he now wants to focus on “global expansion”.

If you work for a bank and want to join ByteDance, there may be more jobs opening up later this year. ByteDance has entered the heated race to become one of up to five new Singaporean digital banks – the Monetary Authority of Singapore will announce the successful applicants in June. They are all expected to hire staff across technology functions (including UX/UI design, data and analytics, and blockchain) and in fields such as compliance and project management.

New ByteDance recruit Narayan now has a lot on his plate. The head of  APAC T&S has to “collaborate in-depth with global public policy, product, operations, legal, and communication teams to identify key risks, emergencies and potential challenges for TikTok and Vigo in Asia, drive strategic projects addressing those topics, and see through the implementation to ensure content and community safety,” according to a job vacancy posted last year.

Google’s T&S team, which Narayan has just left, has been hiring in Singapore. As we reported last month, while Google has Trust and Safety vacancies from Hyderabad in India to Sunnyvale in California, about 11% of the team’s openings are based in Singapore. By contrast, Singapore’s contribution to Google’s overall vacancy total is only about 4%.

Photo by Kon Karampelas on Unsplash

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