Kevin Mayer, TikTok CEO, just resigned after 100 short days. The former Disney executive joined the TikTok team back in May. But why would Kevin Mayer quit now?
FT Exclusive: TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer has quit just months after taking over at the Chinese-owned video app, according to a letter to employees seen by the Financial Times https://t.co/wg2DuJghU7 pic.twitter.com/2c2fk9O6t3
— Financial Times (@FinancialTimes) August 27, 2020
This news emerged with the news of TikTok’s move to sue the US government for the upcoming TikTok ban. TikTok is a controversial subject at the moment, as the Chinese owned company ByteDance is at odds with the United States due to TikTok’s potential security threat. The argument is that ByteDance has the potential to collect reams of user data on TikTok that can be used by China’s ruling Communist party against the United States’ interests.
On August 6th, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to shut down TikTok in the US if ByteDance does not sell all US operations for the app. President Trump has stated that ByteDance has until around November of 2020 to decide if they will sell or fold. TikTok is fighting back, as they filed a lawsuit on Monday asking a judge to block the executive order. TikTok claims that they do not share user data with the Chinese government.
New York Times reported that Mayer’s decision to step down was due to the pressure from the Trump administration over his links to China. Mayer did not want to get caught between the ongoing tensions between China and the US. In his letter shared with CNET, Mayer said, “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.”
Who will run TikTok in the meantime? Vanesa Pappas, the current general manager, has stepped up to assume Kevin Mayer’s role as TikTok CEO, effective immediately.
What does this mean for the future of TikTok in the US? Well, with the potential sale of TikTok’s US operations still looming, anything is possible. TikTok has already caught the eye of investors like Microsoft and Oracle, it might just be a matter of time before TikTok caves, allowing management to step in.
On the contrary, it is still very possible that TikTok operations are not sold. This would result in the ban of TikTok in the United States. In his letter, former TikTok CEO Mayer adds, “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. As we look to the next phases of this company, there is no doubt that the future is incredibly bright.” Although Mayer ends his letter in an optimistic note, if TikTok’s future in the United States was so bright, why would Mayer resign so abruptly?