American Kevin Mayer has quit his job as TikTok chief executive amidst escalating tensions between the Chinese social media group and the US government.
The resignation comes as TikTok’s Beijing-based parent ByteDance moves to dig its heels in over Donald Trump’s order earlier this month that the US version of the app, and all its American user data, must be sold to an American company within 90 days.
It marks a sharp turnaround for Mayer who up until May had led Disney’s streaming businesses, following its successful release and roll-out in 2019 – indeed, the growth of the video on-demand platform has evidently been something of a life raft for the Mickey Mouse company as it reached 60mln paying subscribers through the pandemic.
Mayer joined TikTok in June lured by the promise of new opportunity in what was a breakout, viral-video platform that had quickly captured the attention of a large and elusive ‘Gen Z’ (ages c15-21) audience base.
He now leaves only months later amidst what he reportedly described in a leaving letter to employees as a political environment that 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 said in a letter to TikTok employees, according to a report in the Financial Times.
“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.”
Mayer added that he had signed up for a role that included running TikTok globally and that Trump’s push for a US separation would leave the role looking very different.
Microsoft, Twitter and Oracle have been linked to possible American acquirers for the social media group.
Facebook’s Instagram has meanwhile launched ‘Reels’, an viral video addon to its platform which incorporates similar features that popularised TikTok.