It has been just around four months that Kevin Mayers joined TikTok as its CEO. However, among rising political tensions and uncertainty, he has announced that he will be resigning from this multi-million 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…We thank him for his time at the company and wish him well.”- TikTok Spokesperson.
The Chinese-owned video app TikTok has been under sustained pressure from the Trump administration. In his note to the employees, Mayer states that the global role was a big draw for him in joining. However, under increasingly unstable political conditions that are likely to bring about significant corporate structural changes, he had to make this decision.
The exact time of departure is not precise yet. Vanessa Pappas, general manager of TikTok in North America, will be taking over as the interim global head of the company.
The TikTok-Trump Tension
The Trump administration has decided to target technical giants amid worsening U.S.-China tensions. As part of a campaign of being tough on China, they have lasered their focus on TikTok. They claim that TikTok’s Chinese ownership is a matter of threat to its national security.
In August, US President Donald Trump issued an order demanding a block on TikTok if the owner company ByteDance did not sell the app’s U.S. operations within 45 days. To finalize the sales deal, TikTok has been granted another 90 days.
There have been several bidders eyeing the video-app, including multiple U.S. tech giants. Talks have spread around Microsoft being one of the forerunners of the bid, which ranges up to $50 billion. In the latest advancement, Walmart has confirmed that it has also joined forces with Microsoft to close off the deal. Entreprises like Netflix and Oracle have also reached out to the company.
The Stance Of TikTok
The ByteDance owned video-app company has not stayed silent in this ordeal. In its attempt to retaliate against the Trump Administration, it sued the U.S. government on Monday. The alleged charge was that TikTok was being deprived of its say in the entire process. The company has stood by its claim that it doesn’t share user data with the Chinese government.
According to CNBC, TikTok should announce a sale somewhere as soon as the first week of September, which is right ahead of Trump’s September 15 deadline. The deal should value between $20 – $30 billion.
TikTok’s tiff is not limited to the United States only. Recently in June, the app was banned from India as well. Zhang Yiming, the founder and chief executive of ByteDance, addressed this on a note to employees. According to him, ByteDance and TikTok are working on all the necessary steps to resolve these tensions.
I cannot get into details at this point, but I can assure you that we are developing solutions that will be in the interest of users, creators, partners, and employees. – Zhang Yiming.
He also added that he understands the decision of Mr. Mayer and how his role would be affected as he was in the States.
Washington’s scrutiny on Chinese apps is not entirely new and has only been growing recently. To evade the suspecting eyes, TikTok had been taking several appeasing steps. TikTok has been on a hiring spree in Los Angeles, New York, and other states in the U.S. Further. It also shared its plans to add over 10,000 new jobs in the country.
Kevin Meyer’s joining was a move in the direction of this appeasement agenda. Mayer joined TikTok on June 1. Before this, he worked with Disney for over fifteen years. Previously, Meyer had been fulfilling his duties as the chairman of Walt Disney’s direct-to-consumer and international division. Significantly, he had an influential role to play in the company’s acquisition of Pixar, LucasFilms, and Marvel.
Mayer’s move has attracted much political criticism. But he explains in the note to the employees that his resigning has nothing to do with the company. He states:
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…there is no doubt that the future is incredibly bright…I strongly believe that our community will be more creative and diverse than ever.
Tiktok has become a fan-favorite app worldwide, especially among teenagers and young adults. The video creation and sharing boats a download frequency of about 1.9 billion times worldwide, according to Sensor Tower.