As TikTok battle with Washington continues, its Chief Executive Officer Kevin Mayer, has quit just months after his appointment, amid a “sharply changed” political environment after Donald Trump accused the platform of threatening national security.
Mayer said the scope of his role as the head of the video-sharing platform was more than he could manage.
His decision to leave the company comes days after TikTok filed suit against the Trump administration over an executive order that prevents the video-sharing app from making business transactions in the United States.
The former Disney executive would be replaced in the interim by Vanessa Pappas, the general manager.
In a letter to staff, parts of which have been seen by Investogist, Mayer said he had decided to leave after Trump ordered TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, to sell its US assets to a US company within 90 days
“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,” the letter said.
“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 Financial Times quoted an excerpt from the letter that said: “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.”
TikTok said in a statement it thanked Mayer for his time and wished him well. “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,” it said.
ByteDance, which owns TikTok, said in a statement that it hopes to quickly resolve the business hurdles that it faces in the US according to The Guardian.
US tech companies including Microsoft, Twitter and Oracle, have expressed interest or announced talks with ByteDance to acquire some of TikTok’s operations outside China.
TikTok’s Chinese ownership has raised concern about the potential for sharing user data with Chinese officials as well as censorship of videos critical of the Chinese Communist Party government. TikTok says it does not censor videos and it would not give the Chinese government access to US user data.
In early August Trump threatened to ban TikTok on the basis of national security concerns.
Trump later issued a pair of executive orders banning US transactions with the Chinese companies ByteDance that owns TikTok, and Tencent which owns WeChat, saying the US must take “aggressive action” in the interest of national security. TikTok is suing the US government over the executive orders