TikTok CEO Kevin A. Mayer has resigned from his position. As reported by CNET and other news outlets, the 58-year-old announced his decision to leave the organization in a letter sent to employees late on Wednesday. He cited a changing political environment in the wake of President Donald Trump’s threat to ban TikTok in the U.S. as his reason. Mayer was a former Disney exec who had been hired for the job by the app’s owner, ByteDance, in May.
“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,” he wrote. “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.”
As relayed earlier this month by The Inquisitr, the president issued an executive order that will effectively ban the popular social media app in the event its China-based parent company is unable to sell off its U.S. operations within a stated time allotment.
Trump’s directive noted his concern over TikTok automatically capturing sizable amounts of personal data from its users, including location info, browsing habits and search histories. It is the president’s belief that said info could be funneled to the Chinese Communist Party and used to track federal employees and contractors, and build dossiers for blackmail and/or espionage.
At the time, TikTok responded by saying that Trump’s executive order would undermine “global businesses’ trust in the United States’ commitment to the rule of law” and threatened legal action in addition to denying the release of personal user data to the CCP. Per the CNET story, ByteDance filed a lawsuit on Monday seeking to block the president’s order.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Vanessa Pappas, TikTok’s General Manager in North America, Australia and New Zealand, will step in as interim CEO following Mayer’s resignation. Meanwhile, TikTok issued a statement in support of Mayer’s decision, relaying an understanding that the scope of his role had changed as a result of the shifting political climate.
TikTok’s parent company is currently in the midst of sales discussions with myriad suitors for its U.S. operations, including American tech giant Microsoft.
In addition to his time with Disney, Mayer previously served as the CEO of Playboy.com and later held a similar position with Clear Channel Interactive.