TikTok CEO quits amid pressure to sell

PHOTO: Kevin Mayer - CNBC

Kevin Mayer, the high flying CEO of TikTok, quit today under US pressure for the platform’s Chinese owner Bytedance to sell popular video app, which Washington says is a national security threat. In a letter to employees, Mayer said his decision to leave comes because the “political environment has sharply changed.”

Mayer, a former Disney executive, joined TikTok as CEO in May. The resignation comes on the heels of President Donald Trump’s order to ban TikTok unless its parent company sells its US operations to an American company within 90 days.

“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.”

Bytedance is currently in talks with Microsoft for the US firm to buy TikTok’s US operations. TikTok thanked Mayer.

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“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.”

ByteDance launched TikTok in 2017, and later bought Musical.ly, a video service popular with teens in the US and Europe, and combined them. A twin service, Douyin, is available for Chinese users.

TikTok gained immense popularity via its fun, goofy videos and ease of use, and has hundreds of millions of users globally. But its Chinese ownership has raised concerns about potential censorship of videos, including those critical of the Chinese government, and the risk Beijing could access user data. India has already banned it on these grounds, and other countries, including Australia, are expressing concerns and investigating.

Earlier this month, Trump ordered a vague, sweeping but ban on dealings with the Chinese owners of consumer apps TikTok and WeChat as the US heightens scrutiny of Chinese technology companies, citing concerns that they could pose a threat to national security.

SOURCES: Khaosod English | Washington Post | AP

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