TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer exits amidst push for sell-off of US business

TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer, who is also the COO of parent company ByteDance, has resigned less than four months into the role.

The company’s US General Manager Vanessa Pappas has been named Interim Head of TikTok, globally.

Mayer, who joined the Chinese-owned tech company in May from Disney, sent a statement to staff on Wednesday (August 26) in which he cited the “sharply changed” political environment for his decision to resign.

The app has been under growing Anglo-American political pressure this year due to ongoing national security concerns over its Beijing-based parent company.

This all culminated in an executive order signed by US President Donald Trump on August 6 that would see TikTok banned from the US within 45 days. He later issued a second executive order giving the company 90 days to sell its US operations.

Mayer added in his note that the company expects to “reach a resolution very soon”, and 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: “I’ve always been globally focused in my work, and leading a global team that includes TikTok US was a big draw for me.”

In the US, ByteDance has ben engaged in talks with Microsoft and reportedly Twitter and Oracle to salvage the business in the United States.

Meanwhile, in India, where TikTok was banned along with 58 other Chinese-owned apps in June, Reliance Industries (one of the country’s largest multi-national companies) is reportedly in early stage discussions with ByteDance to invest in TikTok in the market.

“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.”

Kevin Mayer

Said Mayer: “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.”

“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.”

TikTok spokesperson

A TikTok spokesperson said: “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.”

You can read Kevin Mayer’s letter below:


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.

Sincerely,

Kevin

 Music Business Worldwide

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