TikTok taps marketer Richard Waterworth to run UK operations

Waterworth: spent nearly 10 years at YouTube
Waterworth: spent nearly 10 years at YouTube

Waterworth, who will also become acting EMEA general manager, only joined from YouTube in September.

TikTok has promoted its EMEA marketer Richard Waterworth to be general manager for the UK. 

Waterworth, who joined the video-sharing platform in September from Google’s YouTube, will now oversee TikTok's UK operations. 

He will continue to lead TikTok's marketing efforts in EMEA as acting general manager for the region. A spokeswoman confirmed Waterworth will hire a new EMEA marketing lead as TikTok looks to build out an EMEA leadership team in addition to country management teams in key markets, such as the UK.

TikTok had been recruiting for a UK chief for several months and Waterworth’s appointment is a departure from recent efforts to poach well-known commercial chiefs from bigger rivals. Last month, Campaign revealed that TikTok had hired Trevor Johnson, a Facebook veteran, having earlier appointed Facebook’s Blake Chandlee in a global role and YouTube’s Vanessa Pappas as US general manager. 

Waterworth had spent nearly a decade leading YouTube's marketing across EMEA. He is credited with driving the launch and roll-out of new services such as YouTube Premium, YouTube Music Premium and YouTube Kids. Earlier in his career, Waterworth held senior marketing roles at ITV and the Extreme Sports Channel.

TikTok is also on the lookout for a head of EMEA policy – a crucial role as the platform manages brand-safety issues and data protection. It is part of a hiring spree that could boost its UK operation to 200 people within the next six months. The UK office, based in a WeWork in London’s Holborn, launched in August 2018 with just six people.

Alex Zhu, president of TikTok, said: "The UK is one of our most important markets and we have been growing and investing in our local business and team here since day one. Richard has already made a huge impact on our company in a very short space of time and, combined with his deep industry expertise, I am confident that he is the right person to lead the UK business into its next phase of growth." 

TikTok, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, is hugely popular with teens and allows people to create and share off-the-wall content – usually set to music and lasting 15 seconds. Its popularity has surged in 2019, having surpassed a billion app downloads. While ByteDance does not confirm its user numbers, AppAnnie's recent estimate put monthly active users worldwide at 625 million.

Inam Mahmood is TikTok’s commercial chief in EMEA as director of revenue and partnerships, alongside Facebook alumnus Anastasia Nicholl (brand partnerships lead, EMEA).

Waterworth added: "The UK is a leading hub for creativity and TikTok's exponential growth in the market reflects the strong appetite among users and creators for a differentiated platform that offers a fun and genuinely positive space for creativity. 

"In my first few months at the company, I've been blown away by the diversity, innovation and scale of our business here and that has reinforced to me that there is nothing else quite like TikTok."

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