Kevin Mayer Kevin Mayer

Kevin Mayer forged his reputation in the entertainment business at Disney, where he spent 15 years.

His next position, as CEO of video streaming app Tiktok, has lasted less than three months.

Here are the details of his resignation:

  • Today, Mayer told employees at Tiktok and Bytedance, its Chinese owner, that he was stepping down. His decision comes amid an escalating political crisis, which has seen the U.S. government threaten to ban the app in the country.
  • “In recent weeks,” wrote Mayer in his letter to employees, “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.”
  • Since Mayer joined the company on June 1, Tiktok has come under increasing fire from President Trump, who says there is “credible evidence” that Bytedance could share user data from the app with the Chinese government. His rhetoric is part of a toughening stance on Chinese businesses as a whole.
  • Via two executive orders issued in August, the Trump administration has threatened to ban transactions with Tiktok by late September, and ban the app outright by mid-November if Bytedance hasn’t divested it by then. Both Microsoft and Oracle have held talks with Bytedance about a possible sale of the app’s U.S. operations.
  • When Mayer joined as CEO, he was tasked with overseeing the company’s global expansion. “He has put himself in a sensitive political zone,” one person familiar with his time at Disney told The Financial Times at the time. “He will have to align himself with both his Chinese masters and public scrutiny in the U.S.”
  • Commenting on Mayer’s departure, Zhang Yiming, founder and CEO of Bytedance, said, “Kevin spoke to me, and I fully understand that the resulting outcome that we land upon due to the political circumstances we are operating within could have significant impact on his job in any scenario, but particularly given his global role while he’s based in the U.S.”
  • Tiktok, which is best known for hosting dance challenges and other music-based short-form videos, has seen its popularity boom during the pandemic. It reached two billion downloads in April, and has some 100 million American users.
  • At Disney, Mayer played a key role in the acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, and 21st Century Fox. In his most recent role as direct-to-consumer chairman, he was in charge of the company’s streaming platforms, including ESPN+, Hulu, and India’s HotStar. He was also the chief architect of the Disney+ streaming service.

Latest News from Cartoon Brew