TikTok May Remove its General Counsel Erich Andersen, but Who Is He at TikTok?

Erich Andersen was responsible for negotiating with the US government on behalf of TikTok.


Apr. 23 2024, Published 11:17 a.m. ET

Although the app maintains much of its dominance over American consumers, 2024 has not been a particularly good year for TikTok in the US. The company has faced continuous threats that it may be banned by the US government, and now that a version of that bill has passed the House, some are wondering whether ban could be imminent.

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Amid all that speculation about a ban, though, news broke that TikTok may have fired Erich Andersen, who was serving as general counsel for the organization. TikTok has thus far denied reports that it is planning to fire Erich, bit it nonetheless led many to wonder who exactly he is.

A TikTok logo on a phone with the American flag in the background.
Source: Getty Images
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Who is Erich Andersen?

Erich Andersen currently serves as general counsel for Bytedance, and has been in that role since he was brought on in 2020. In his role, Erich was charged with negotiating with the American government in the hopes of proving to the Americans that TikTok's data from American users was walled off from the Chinese government. Investigative reporting has suggested that much of that data was meant to mask more than reveal the truth.

Given that a bill has now made its way to the Senate which is meant to ban TikTok in the US or force the US business to be sold to another company, it seems like Erich's efforts to negotiate with the US government were not a success. It would make sense, then, if the company was ready to part ways with him, but TikTok's parent company Bytedance has thus far denied rumors that that's its intention.

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Who is Erich Andersen?

Erich has served as Bytedance's global general counsel for four years. Before that, he worked at Microsoft for more than 20 years in various corporate attorney roles. Although he was given the lofty responsibility of trying to save TikTok from a ban, Erich seems to be a pretty standard corporate lawyer who has risen through the ranks to become someone who is entrusted with immense power and responsibility.

Source: Twitter/@yashar
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Whether Erich was actually fired by Bytedance or not, it's pretty clear that their efforts to convince influential government officials that the ban was unnecessary have failed.

If the ban goes through, TikTok will have roughly six months to find an American company that could purchase it to keep it from shutting down in the US.

That could be a tall task in and of itself given TikTok's multi-billion dollar valuation, and the fact that many of the companies who might consider buying it are concerned about creating a monopoly that would leave them open to lawsuits.

If TikTok doesn't get purchased, though, the company will cease operating in the US, and the app will become unavailable in all US-based app stores. Many TikTok users live in fear of this possibility. Thankfully, if the bill does pass, they'll at least have 180 days to figure out what they're going to do without the app.

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