CEO Kevin Mayer said Wednesday he has left TikTok as political tensions between the US and China have risen over the Chinese-owned social media app.
The decision follows TikTok’s lawsuit to challenge a bridle by US President Donald Trump. His administration claims national security concerns as the app can be used to spy on Americans.
TikTok is in the midst of rising tensions between the US and China.
Trump gave on August 6 a timeline for Americans to stop doing business with TikTok’s Chinese owner ByteDance. The executive order set a 45-day deadline to sell the app to a US company or risk a ban in the country.
TikTok has over 100 million users in the US. It has ongoing talks to sell its US division. And experts say the company is worth between $40 billion and $50 billion.
It has reached more than 175 million downloads in the US and more than a billion times worldwide.
TikTok argued in its suit that Trump’s EO misused the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. The company said its platform is not “an unusual and extraordinary threat.”
Microsoft and reportedly to Oracle have taken interest and are discussing terms to buy it.
Microsoft took the first dive and talks are ongoing for a deal to buy TikTok’s operations in English-speaking countries, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the US.
“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 said in a memo to TikTok employees.
“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,” he wrote.
“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.”
“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.
TikTok hired former Disney exec Mayer less than four months ago. It strengthened its American credentials and bettered its standing with US watchdogs.
Since then, Trump has threatened to ban the app.
ByteDance launched the TikTok’s Chinese version Douyin in 2016. The international version launched a year after and grew as one of the most popular social media apps worldwides.
TikTok said it had nearly 690 million global monthly active users in July this year. It trails Facebook’s 2.7 billion monthly active users. But TikTok is much newer than its US rival.
TikTok said it had surpassed two billion global downloads earlier this month.
Former YouTube exec Vanessa Pappas will serve as interim head for TikTok. She served as TikTok’s general manager of North America, Australia and New Zealand since she joined the company last year.