- TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer has quit the company just months after his appointment.
- The short-video-sharing app is being forced to sell its U.S. business by the Trump administration, which says the app’s current ties to China make it a national security threat.
- Microsoft and Oracle are competing to acquire the business from TikTok’s Beijing-based parent company, ByteDance.
- Mayer joined TikTok on June 1 from Disney.
TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer has quit the company just months after his appointment.
“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,” Mayer said in a letter to employees obtained by CNBC.
“I understand that the role that I signed up for—including running TikTok globally—will look very different as a result of the US Administration’s action to push for a sell off of the US business,” he added.
“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. We thank him for his time at the company and wish him well,” a TikTok spokesperson told CNBC.
TikTok’s U.S. general manger Vanessa Pappas will be the interim global head at the company.
Sale of U.S. business
The short-video-sharing app is being forced to sell its U.S. business by the Trump administration, which says the app’s current ties to China make it a national security threat.
In an executive order signed by President Donald Trump on Aug. 6, the U.S. alleged China may potentially have access to “Americans’ personal and proprietary information” due to the data collected by TikTok.
For its part, TikTok has consistently denied those allegations and says its U.S. user data is stored in the country itself with a backup in Singapore and that its data centers are located outside China, implying the information was not subjected to Chinese law.
Still, experts have pointed to existing legislation in China which could force local Chinese companies like ByteDance and others to hand over data to the Chinese government.
Beijing-based ByteDance, which owns TikTok, is in talks with Microsoft, Oracle and other investors in the company for the sale of its U.S., Canadian, Australian and New Zealand operations.
Based on the Aug. 6 executive order, a sale must go through before Sept. 15 or the app could be banned in the U.S.
On Monday, TikTok sued the U.S. government alleging it was deprived of due process. The lawsuit could delay the ban, giving TikTok more time to get a better deal for the sale.
Read Kevin Mayer’s full letter below:
I decided to join this company this spring because ByteDance is utterly unique and it offered the opportunity to play a leadership role in a company that is changing the global internet landscape. Since joining, I have been incredibly impressed with the team and the 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.
I want to be clear that this decision has nothing to do with the company, what I see for our future, or the belief I have in what we are building. Yiming understands my decision and I thank him for his support on this.
As we look to the next phase of this company, there is no doubt that the future is incredibly bright. For our users, any potential structural changes should not affect their experience, and I strongly believe that our community will be more creative and diverse than ever. The platform will continue to provide our global community an amazing and integrated experience as it does today. Similarly, from an employee perspective, I believe that the vast majority of work will be unchanged.
At the same time, I understand that the role that I signed up for–including running TikTok globally–will look very different as a result of the US Administration’s action to push for a sell off of the US business. I’ve always been globally focused in my work, and leading a global team that includes TikTok US was a big draw for me.
The great news is that the TikTok team will be in the incredibly capable hands of Vanessa, who will serve as interim head for TikTok globally. She has fearlessly led operations in the US, and won the trust of our employees, creators, users, and partners. I am extremely grateful for the time that I was able to work with her and wish her success.
In my short time here, I have been amazed at the passion and dedication of our teams, particularly given the political criticism that we have faced. Like all companies in our space, we face challenges, but I have tremendous confidence that we have a world-class security team in place working to make people on our platform safe, and an amazing global team that makes this such a unique, creative, and inclusive platform.
Thank you for all of your work during this period, and at heart I will always be a member of the ByteDance team, rooting for all of you.