25. Hilary McQuaide, TikTok

Despite censorship controversy around its Chinese owner, TikTok became the go-to app for Gen Z to film and distribute short-form video - and Hilary McQuaide has been leading global comms from the get-go.

As of June, TikTok was the most downloaded app of 2020. But Hilary McQuaide started her role as head of global comms for the platform in June 2017, way before its boom in popularity.

TikTok, a home for user-generated short-form mobile videos, used to be lip-syncing app Musical.ly. In August 2018, Musical.ly rebranded as TikTok, after being acquired by Chinese company ByteDance. Since then, TikTok and its Chinese counterpart, Douyin, have amassed 800 million monthly active users.

Lockdowns amid the pandemic caused unique visitors to spike more than 30% from January to March, and TikTok added over 12 million visitors in March, according to Comscore. During Q1 2020, TikTok had been downloaded more than 2 billion times. Brands are also turning to the platform as a new comms channel.

McQuaide has helped TikTok deal with challenges over the past two years involving regulatory hurdles, privacy concerns and allegations of censorship tied to its Chinese ownership. She also has her hands full with the company’s leadership transition. In June, TikTok brought on Disney’s head of streaming Kevin Mayer as CEO. 

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