TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer resigns after three months amid Trump's ban threat

Mayer announced in mid-May that he was leaving Disney to join TikTok.

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Daniel Van Boom
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TikTok's CEO has resigned.

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It was only three months ago that Kevin Mayer resigned as Disney's head of streaming to become the CEO of TikTok . But late Wednesday the executive resigned from his position through a letter he sent to employees. Mayer made the decision following US President Donald Trump's threat earlier this month to ban the popular video app in 90 days unless it was bought out by a US company.

"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," read his letter, shared with CNET. "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."

Trump issued an executive order on Aug. 6 that will ban transactions with ByteDance, the Beijing-based company that owns TikTok, on the grounds of national security concerns. The argument is that ByteDance, via TikTok, collects reams of user data and that this can be used by China's ruling Communist party against US interests. 

If the actions laid out in the executive order go into effect in early November, it would likely mean Google and Apple would be barred from hosting the app on their respective app stores, effectively banning the app across the western world. 

TikTok is fighting back, filing a lawsuit on Monday that asks a judge to block the executive order. TikTok's lawsuit alleges the US government didn't allow it to respond to the national security concerns cited as the reason for the potential ban. The company has repeatedly said that it doesn't share user data with the Chinese government.

"I want to be clear that this decision has nothing to do with the company, what I see for our future, or the belief I have in what we are building," Mayer said in his letter. "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. 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."

Mayer came to TikTok on June 1 after 15 years with Disney during which he helped oversee the company's acquisition of Pixar, LucasFilms and Marvel, as executive vice president of corporate strategy, business development, and technology. He was ultimately named chairman of Walt Disney direct-to-consumer and international division, the arm of the company responsible for streaming services. 

Trump's executive order came amid an array of moves designed to pressure China. In June, the president signed the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act, which penalizes China over its mistreatment of Uighur Muslims, over a million of whom are estimated to be detained in "vocational" labor camps. In July, the US declared China's expansion in the South China Sea illegal, ceased to recognize Hong Kong as an autonomous region and closed China's consulate in Houston.

Correction at 12:10 p.m. PT Aug. 27: Kevin Mayer's last name was misspelled in three places in the story. This has been fixed.