AUSTIN (KXAN) — TikTok, the popular video and social media platform owned by a Chinese company, is moving forward with hiring hundreds of new employees in Austin, despite President Donald Trump’s executive order telling the company to sell or shut down operations in the United States.
TikTok’s expansion into the Austin market began in March. Now, dozens of job openings are posted to join the platform.
Blake Chandlee, TikTok’s vice president of global business solutions and Austin resident, said the company’s plan is to stay here for “years to come.”
“We’re proud to build our presence in Austin and be a part of the thriving business and tech community locally,” Chandlee said. “The Austin community embodies the same creative and entrepreneurial spirit that defines the TikTok community, and we are going to do all we can to ensure our company’s future in Texas and the U.S.”
Trump called TikTok a “national security risk,” giving TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, 45 days to sell the company to an American buyer or end business in the U.S. Microsoft has reportedly expressed interest in purchasing the company.
TikTok has denied sharing user data with the Chinese government and said data is stored in the United States and Singapore.
Stephen Austin, 81, is known affectionately on TikTok as “Old Man Steve” and has built a following of over 1.3 million from his small apartment in a Dallas senior community. He’s confused by the president’s recent interest in the platform.
“Why would he want to get involved in TikTok? Doesn’t he have better things to do?” Austin said.
TikTok has provided Austin, and many others, with an opportunity to monetize content. He has been asked by Taco Bell and other brands to endorse products through his social media channels.
“I live on a fixed income, and so getting extra money like that has really been wonderful,” he said.
Attorney Chad Ruback, who does not represent TikTok, expects TikTok is simultaneously pursuing two options: sell to an American buyer and sue the United States government.
Given that Trump cited national security concerns, little is known about any evidence that TikTok acted nefariously.
“This puts us, the American people, in a really tough situation,” Ruback said. “Basically, the president is saying ‘trust me.'”
Old Man Steve will keep making his cooking tutorials, dancing videos and any other idea that comes to mind, all while wearing his trademark bucket hat. He’s confident TikTok will stick around in some shape or form.
He never married and doesn’t have any children, but he has found a home on TikTok.
“All the young people on TikTok call me grandpa,” Austin said.