TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer has left the company amid ongoing disputes with the Trump administration and sale talks. The news was first reported by the Financial Times.
“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,” a TikTok spokesperson said in a statement to The Verge. “We thank him for his time at the company and wish him well.”
Mayer announced his departure in an internal email viewed by the Financial Times. TikTok’s general manager Vanessa Pappas will take over the position in the interim, according to the newspaper.
“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 his letter. “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.”
Over the last few weeks, TikTok has faced an extraordinary amount of pressure from the Trump administration. Trump demanded that an American company purchase TikTok’s US business — a complicated deal considering that TikTok is a global company — or the app would be banned in the US entirely. Microsoft has emerged as a front runner in the ongoing sales talks, but companies from Oracle to Netflix have reportedly also taken meetings with Chinese parent company ByteDance.
Most recently, TikTok filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration for banning transactions with ByteDance. “The [Trump] administration ignored our extensive efforts to address its concerns, which we conducted fully and in good faith,” TikTok wrote in a press release. “We do not take suing the government lightly, however we feel we have no choice but to take action to protect our rights, and the rights of our community and employees.”
Mayer joined TikTok in May, leaving his position as head of direct-to-consumer content at Disney where he oversaw the launch of Disney Plus. Mayer was also crucial to some of Disney’s key acquisitions, including Marvel Entertainment in 2009, Lucasfilm in 2012, and the $71.3 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox last year. Mayer left not long after Disney named Bob Chapek the company’s new CEO following Bob Iger’s move to executive chairman. Mayer was long considered a longtime frontrunner for the CEO position.
Update, August 27th, 00:45AM ET: Added statement from TikTok.