Three months into the job, former Disney executive Kevin Mayer has abandoned his post as CEO of TikTok. With the current politicization of the app’s Chinese ownership, this is a particularly bad time for the company to take such a leadership hit.
Mayer had previously informed employees about his decision to leave TikTok and parent company ByteDance as of the public announcement. Vanessa Pappas, the company’s general manager, will assume the role of interim company head until the position can be filled.
The company has recently been under pressure from the Trump administration to sell to an American tech firm. Under threat of a national ban and given a formal deadline of 90 days for the sale, frontrunners for the acquisition supposedly included Microsoft and Oracle.
For you — “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,” Mayer wrote in a letter to the company’s employees. “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.”
Swipe — There has been little evidence that TikTok is, as the President has called it, a “national security threat.” TikTok data collection methods are similar to other social media companies like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn and it is no more beholden to the Chinese government than any other firm with Chinese ownership. It has been speculated (on Input, by me) that Trump’s obsession with the app stems from a group of K-pop fans on the platform that don’t think he’s cool. Yes, really.
Comment — “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 said in a statement to the Financial Times.