Aug 27, 2020 - Economy

TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer resigns

Photo: Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney

Kevin Mayer resigned Wednesday as CEO of TikTok, the popular video app that's in the spotlight amid U.S.-China tensions, and which has been ordered by President Trump to sell its U.S. operations to a domestic buyer.

Why it matters: Mayer took the job just three months ago after 27 years on-and-off at Disney, where he most recently headed online streaming, including the debut of Disney+, and was long considered a potential successor to former CEO Bob Iger.

  • In a note to colleagues (below), Mayer explains that the changes that will be required of the transaction the company is currently working on won't leave the role with the same global focus as it had when he took the job.
  • Vanessa Pappas, general manager of TikTok in North America, will take over as interim global head of the company.

From TikTok:

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 spokesman.

Mayer's letter to colleagues:

"I decided to join this company this spring because ByteDance is utterly unique and it offered the opportunity to play a leadership role in a company that is changing the global internet landscape. Since joining, I have been incredibly impressed with the team and the company.
"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. 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.
"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. Yiming understands my decision and I thank him for his support on this.
"As we look to the next phase of this company, there is no doubt that the future is incredibly bright. For our users, any potential structural changes should not affect their experience, and I strongly believe that our community will be more creative and diverse than ever. The platform will continue to provide our global community an amazing and integrated experience as it does today. Similarly, from an employee perspective, I believe that the vast majority of work will be unchanged.
"At the same time, I understand that the role that I signed up for--including running TikTok globally--will look very different as a result of the US Administration's action to push for a sell off of the US business. I've always been globally focused in my work, and leading a global team that includes TikTok US was a big draw for me.
"The great news is that the TikTok team will be in the incredibly capable hands of Vanessa, who will serve as interim head for TikTok globally. She has fearlessly led operations in the US, and won the trust of our employees, creators, users, and partners. I am extremely grateful for the time that I was able to work with her and wish her success.
"In my short time here, I have been amazed at the passion and dedication of our teams, particularly given the political criticism that we have faced. Like all companies in our space, we face challenges, but I have tremendous confidence that we have a world-class security team in place working to make people on our platform safe, and an amazing global team that makes this such a unique, creative, and inclusive platform.
"Thank you for all of your work during this period, and at heart I will always be a member of the ByteDance team, rooting for all of you.
Sincerely,
— Kevin Mayer.
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