Kevin Mayer said yesterday (Wednesday 26) that he is resigning just months after becoming chief executive of Chinese-owned TikTok as the platform has come under scrutiny from the Trump administration over concerns of its ties with China.
Mayer told employees at TikTok and ByteDance that a series of changes at TikTok’s structure made him leave. In a letter to staff, former Disney executive said he chose to quit after President Trump gave an executive order that gave TikTok 90 days to sell its US operations to an American company.
“In recent weeks, as the political environment has sharply changed, I have done significant reflection on what the corporate structural changes will require, and what it means for the global role I signed up for. Against this backdrop, and as we expect to reach a resolution very soon, it is with a heavy heart that I wanted to let you all know that I have decided to leave the company,” the letter said.
Mayer said that he ha signed up for a global role and that leading a global team had been a”big draw” for him. He added that the “role will look very different as a result of the US adminstration’s action to push for a sell off of the US business.”
Mayer did not predict the extent to which the video platform would become involved in tensions between China and the US, said those familiar with the situation. TikTok said in a statement it thanked him and wished him all the best. Zhang Yiming, the founder of ByteDance, said in a note to employees on Wednesday that Mayer had joined the company at “arguably the most challeneging moment.”
“We appreciate that the political dynamics of the last few months have significantly changed what the scope of Kevin’s role would be going forward, and fully respect his decision,” said the note.
ByteDance has been in talks with potential US buyers including Microsoft and Oracle, and Twitter. On Monday, TikTok sued the US government over the executive order.
TikTok’s Chinese ownership raised concerns over the potential sharing of US data to the Chinese governement as well as cecnsorship of videos of the Chinese Communist Party government. TikTok said it has never provided data on US users to China’s government.
In early August Trump threatened to ban the app and later issued two executive orders banning US transactions witht he Chinese companies that own TikTok.
In a statement, TikTok said, “Even though we strongly disagree with the [Trump] administration’s concerns, for nearly a year we have sought to engage in good faith to provide a constructive solution.”