TikTok’s chief executive Kevin Mayer has announced he is quitting, as the platform faces the threat of being banned in the United States.
In a letter, Mayer told employees at TikTok, and its parent ByteDance, of his decision to leave on Thursday, according to the Financial Times. Mayer had left Disney to join TikTok in May.
Vanessa Pappas, the general manager of TikTok, will become the interim head.
“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.
“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.”
What is happening at TikTok?
President Donald Trump has passed two executive orders prohibiting American companies from doing business with WeChat and TikTok.
The order comes into effect in 45 days, after the deadline set by President Trump for Microsoft and TikTok-owner Bytedance to hammer out a deal for a takeover of the platform's US operations.
TikTok’s US user data is stored in the US and its biggest investors come from the US, but the Trump government believes the platform is sharing information with the Chinese government, citing China’s establishment of a sweeping new national security law for Hong Kong.
The US wants to follow the example of India; the country’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has placed a blanket ban on 59 mobile apps from Chinese companies that it said: “engaged in activities prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, the security of the state and public order”.
Some believe the US is wary of the potential of Chinese tech giants such as TikTok, WeChat and Weibo, expanding beyond their borders.
In China, the likes of Twitter, Facebook, Google and YouTube are banned.
TikTok generated revenue of $5.6bn during the first quarter, growth of 130% year-on-year, and in April surpassed 2bn downloads across both iOS and Android devices, according to Sensor Tower.
TikTok has sued the US government, accusing the Trump administration of denying it due process.