TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer Quits Over ‘Political Dynamics’

His resignation is the latest development in growing tensions between TikTok and the Trump administration.
August 27, 2020, 7:50am
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In this file illustration photo taken on August 3, 2020  the social media application logo TikTok is displayed on the screen of an iPhone on an American flag background in Arlington, Virginia. Photo by Olivier DOULIERY / AFP 

TikTok chief executive officer Kevin Mayer has resigned just months after joining the controversial Chinese short-form video app, amid extreme pressure from the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump.

"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," Mayer told employees in a memo obtained by CNN Business.

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"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."

Just last May, the 55-year-old Mayer left Disney as a top streaming executive to join TikTok as CEO and its Chief Operating Officer.

Confirming Mayer’s departure, a spokesperson from TikTok attributed his decision to leave the company to “political dynamics.”

"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 said in a statement.

Mayer’s departure from the company comes as China-based ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, filed a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration over an executive order that seeks to ban the app in the U.S. unless it is sold to an American buyer.

Time is ticking fast as the Trump ban on TikTok, which has millions of users within the U.S., is expected to kick off in mid-September.

On Monday, August 24, TikTok asked a judge to dump Trump’s executive order in a lawsuit filed in federal court in California, stressing it “strongly disagrees with the administration's position that TikTok is a national security threat.”

In his August 6 executive order, U.S. President Donald Trump alleged TikTok “may also be used for disinformation campaigns that benefit the Chinese Communist Party, such as when TikTok videos spread debunked conspiracy theories about the origins of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus.”

TikTok has denied these allegations and decried what it called “lack of due process” it encountered from the administration.

“To ensure that the rule of law is not discarded and that our company and users are treated fairly, we have no choice but to challenge the Executive Order through the judicial system,” TikTok said in a statement.

Microsoft has said it was in talks with TikTok and the Trump administration. It is expected to end the talks on a potential acquisition by mid-September.

Aside from Microsoft, Twitter and Oracle have also reportedly thrown their hat in the ring to buy out TikTok.