TikTok CEO Kevin Mayar exits

The decision to leave, after joining on June 1, is due to the political environment 'sharply' changing.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

TikTok CEO Kevin Mayar has left the video-sharing platform less than 100 days after he joined from Disney.

In a letter sent to staff, and shared with ZDNet's sister site CNET, Mayar said his decision to leave TikTok follows the political environment "sharply" changing.

"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," Mayar wrote.

"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 said his decision to walk away has nothing to do with the company, or what he sees for the platform's future.

"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," he continued.

"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."

A spokesperson for TikTok told ZDNet that Mayar's decision to walk away was understood.

"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," the company said. "We thank him for his time at the company and wish him well."

Earlier this month, United States President Donald Trump signed two executive orders addressing what he labelled as the threat posed by apps such as TikTok and WeChat.

"At this time, action must be taken to address the threat posed by one mobile application in particular, TikTok," Trump said.

According to the first order that will take effect 45 days after it was made, any transaction with TikTok's owner, ByteDance Ltd, or its subsidiaries, will be prohibited.

As of the start of August, TikTok had clocked over 175 million downloads in the US, and around 800 million globally.

"TikTok automatically captures vast swaths of information from its users, including internet and other network activity information such as location data and browsing and search histories," the order said.

"This data collection threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans' personal and proprietary information -- potentially allowing China to track the locations of federal employees and contractors, build dossiers of personal information for blackmail, and conduct espionage."

This week, TikTok struck back, confirming it would launch a lawsuit against the US government with regards to its ban. Any potential lawsuit, however, will not prevent the company from being compelled to sell off the app in the US market. 

TikTok also reiterated its previous stance that it has worked to engage the Trump administration for almost a year to "provide a construction solution" to resolve concerns the latter had about the app. 

"We strongly disagree with the Administration's position that TikTok is a national security threat," it said.

"The key personnel responsible for TikTok, including its CEO, global chief security officer, and General Counsel, are all Americans based in the United States -- and therefore are not subject to Chinese law. US content moderation is likewise led by a US-based team and operates independently from China, and … the TikTok application stores US user data on servers located in the United States and Singapore."


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