TikTok’s CEO Kevin Mayer quits after three months

Mr Mayer joined the company in May after spending nearly 15 years at Disney

(FILES) In this file photo Kevin Mayer, chairman of direct-to-consumer and international business at The Walt Disney Company, attends the annual Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference, July 12, 2018 in Sun Valley, Idaho. TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer said August 26 he has quit the wildly popular social media platform.
His resignation comes after US President Donald Trump claimed the video app could be used to spy on Americans and ordered a crackdown on the Chinese-owned company.
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TikTok's chief executive Kevin Mayer quit weeks after US President Donald Trump revealed his plans to ban the social media app within the US, according to a media report.

Mr Mayer told employees of his decision to leave on Thursday, the Financial Times newspaper reported.

“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,” Mr Mayer said in a letter to TikTok’s employees.

“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,” he added.

Vanessa Pappas, currently general manager of TikTok for North America, Australia and New Zealand, will become interim chief executive of the company, according to the memo.

The development comes after TikTok this week sued the US administration over an executive order passed on August 6 that bans transactions in the US.

"We do not take suing the government lightly … but with the executive order threatening to bring a ban on our US operations, we simply have no choice,” TikTok said.

TikTok was launched in China in 2016 and released in the US in 2018 after its parent company ByteDance acquired lip-syncing app Musical.ly.

The platform allows users to share video clips of up to 15 seconds and is popular with young audiences around the world. It has more than one billion users in 140 countries, including 100 million in the US.

Mr Mayer, who was also the chief operating officer of ByteDance, joined the Chinese firm in May after spending nearly 15 years at The Walt Disney Company.

At that time, it was seen as a move to boost the app's American credentials and improve its standing with the US government and regulators.

In a brief statement to The National, TikTok thanked Mr Mayer for his time with the company.

“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," the company said.

“We thank him for his time at the company and wish him well.”

TikTok started actively looking for a buyer for its US operations after Mr Trump issued an executive order banning businesses and US residents from transacting with the app. Companies including Microsoft, Oracle and Twitter are reportedly in the race to buy app’s US operations.

Google’s parent company Alphabet briefly mulled taking a stake in TikTok but the search engine giant’s chief executive Sundar Pichai said the company has no plans to acquire the app.

In another executive order passed on August 14, the Trump administration directed ByteDance to sell its US assets within 90 days.

“There is credible evidence that leads me to believe that ByteDance … might take action that threatens to impair the national security of the US," Mr Trump said in the order.

(FILES) In this file photo the logo of Chinese video app TikTok is seen on the side of the company's new office space at the C3 campus on August 11, 2020 in Culver City, in the westside of Los Angeles.  Video app TikTok on MAugust 24, 2020 said it has filed a lawsuit challenging the US government's crackdown on the popular Chinese-owned platform, which Washington accuses of being a national security threat. As tensions soar between the world's two biggest economies, President Donald Trump signed an executive order on August 6 giving Americans 45 days to stop doing business with TikTok's Chinese parent company ByteDance -- effectively setting a deadline for a potential pressured sale of the app to a US company.
 / AFP / Chris DELMAS
The logo of Chinese video app TikTok is seen on the side of the company's new office in Los Angeles. AFP

The executive order directed ByteDance to sell all its interests and rights in any assets or property used to enable or support TikTok in the US.

“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,” Mr Mayer said.

According to a media report, private tech investor SoftBank is also considering buying TikTok’s US operations.

So far, Microsoft – the second-most valuable tech firm in the world – is the only company that has confirmed it is in discussions with TikTok to buy its business in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The potential deal could reportedly fetch up to $30 billion (Dh36.7bn).