TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer has resigned from the company as tensions with the White House rise and following President Donald Trump’s ban.
“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.
Mayer became TikTok CEO on June 1 from Disney.
“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.
With this, US general manger Vanessa Pappas will be the interim global head at the company.
Trump’s ban order
Mayer’s resignation came following the confirmation from the company that it will sue the Trump administration due to the president’s order that bans US transactions with the app.
According to Trump’s executive order, issued on August 6, any deals made with ByteDance that are under US jurisdiction will face prohibition in 45 days. However, the scope of the ban remains uncertain as it allows the Secretary of Commerce to identify those transactions that will be covered by Trump’s order.
TikTok assures its employees they would still get their salaries even if the app is banned in the US, according to a source familiar with the issue.
Meanwhile, another order issued on August 14, reprimanded ByteDance to divest the US operations of TikTok in 90 days. ByteDance is currently negotiating with potential acquirers like Oracle and Microsoft Inc. However, the lawsuit related to the August 6 executive order does not impact the sale discussions with the two giant tech firms.
Microsoft affirmed that its talks with the China-based company were about acquiring its social app TikTok in the US. According to Microsoft, it will continue working with the US government on a deal and plans to finalize the talks by September 15.
In his statement, Mayer clarified that his resignation is not about TikTok itself. He believes that the future of the company is “incredibly bright.”
“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.”
“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,” he wrote.