The marketing lead behind some of TikTok’s wackiest ideas — from NFTs to ghost kitchens and more — was abruptly ushered out of the company, according to multiple reports. The Information was first to report that marketing chief Nick Tran had abruptly departed from the company yesterday, followed by a confirmation from the New York Post.
Citing a call between an anonymous senior exec at the company and “nearly 200 people” from TikTok’s marketing team, the Post’s report claims that Tran was booted due to ongoing disagreements about what the executive called “stunt marketing.” While TikTok had always been a social media haven for teens and tweens first and foremost, Tran had pushed multiple ideas that took the social media app into somewhat uncharted territory. These included TikTok Resumes, a program where people could use the app’s short-form clips to apply for jobs directly on the platform, and an NFT collaboration with celebrities like Lil Nas X and Bella Poarch.
Tran’s most recent idea was TikTok Kitchens, which was planned to be a collaboration with restaurants to deliver dishes and recipes that had gone viral on the platform directly to the people that use it. A splash page for the “TikTok Kitchen” site is already live, promising that the “delivery only” experience would be rolling out “soon.”
“The menu is inspired by the hottest food trends on TikTok,” wrote Virtual Dining Concepts (VDC), the company Tran had tapped to help launch the food delivery service, in a statement. “TikTok, with over 1 billion subscribers, provides a space for a wide range of creators to post videos featuring recipes and food hacks. These culinary trends have made the food space explode, and VDC has a menu that allows restaurants across the country to opt-in and become a market partner.”
While the company was planning on rolling out countless “ghost kitchens” via restaurant partnerships by the end of this year, there’s a good chance Tran’s ousting has put those plans on pause. As one source who was on the aforementioned executive call told the Post, they were told that TikTok “[is] not in the restaurant business and [it] shouldn’t pretend to be.”
That executive allegedly added that some of the other stunts, including TikTok Resumes, were “side-shows” that distracted people from what the app really was: a social platform. Another senior executive “gave the impression TikTok had parted ways after ongoing disagreements about his use of ‘stunt-marketing,’ the Post explained.
TikTok hasn’t yet responded to Gizmodo’s request for comment, though a spokesperson did confirm to Ad Age that Tran was out. “We wish him well in his future endeavours,” the spokesperson said.