When Kevin Mayer left his big job running Disney’s direct-to-consumer streaming business in mid-May, it was because he had an even bigger job to look forward to: one that would involve running fast-growing social video app TikTok while serving as COO of its $100 billion parent company, ByteDance.
But during his first three months as TikTok CEO, the app became a pawn in President Trump’s battle with China. And Mayer — who in informing staff about his resignation Aug. 26 cited changes to “the global role I signed up for” — ultimately became a casualty. “The entire job that he was hired to do has dramatically changed, so it doesn’t surprise me that he’s leaving,” says LightShed media analyst Rich Greenfield. A TikTok spokeswoman declined to make Mayer or interim CEO Vanessa Pappas available for interviews.
Indeed, Mayer’s role began to look a lot different following Trump’s August executive order to ban TikTok after 90 days. The move all but forced ByteDance to seek a quick acquisition of the app’s U.S. business, which will significantly limit the global CEO’s scope. (TikTok also has been banned from India, its top market per download data from Sensor Tower.)