TikTok raids Facebook again with hiring of Instagram's Trevor Johnson

Johnson is known to be well-regarded by partnerships chief Blake Chandlee.

Johnson: joined Facebook in 2008
Johnson: joined Facebook in 2008

TikTok has swooped for one of Instagram’s most senior European executives, Trevor Johnson, for a senior role.

The video-sharing platform, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, has been on an aggressive hiring spree and building an international sales operation in the US and Europe.

Johnson is poised to take a leading role in TikTok’s UK and EMEA operations, based in London’s Holborn. Since launching in August 2018, it has grown from six people to about 150 today. 

TikTok was unable to confirm Johnson’s job title, but Campaign understands that he will not be a UK country manager or EMEA regional manager. He is known to be a key ally of Blake Chandlee, the former Facebook executive who joined TikTok as its first head of strategic partnerships in June.

A Facebook veteran, Johnson first joined the business in 2008 as international head of strategy and planning. He became director, global agency development, in 2011 and since June 2019 has been working at Instagram (which is part of Facebook) as EMEA director of market operations.

A source who knows Johnson well told Campaign that "Trevor and Blake go back a long way" and it is not the first time Chandlee has tried to hire him since leaving Facebook in 2017. "He [Johnson] was credited with quite a lot of the positioning of Facebook in those early days," the source added.

Johnson will work with TikTok’s EMEA director of revenue and partnerships, Inam Mahmood, who joined TikTok in 2018 from Peg.co, where he was commercial director, as well as EMEA marketing lead Richard Waterworth, who previously spent eight years at YouTube.

TikTok allows users to create off-the-wall content, usually set to music and lasting 15 seconds. It was created by ByteDance after it bought tween-focused social app Musical.ly in 2017 and is known as Douyin in China.

The platform's growth has been strong; it has surpassed a billion downloads and has 500 million active users, according to GlobalWebIndex, while app analytics site App Annie estimates that TikTok has more than 625 million monthly active users worldwide (up 85% year on year). 

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