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TikTok CEO resigns amid US pressure on business

Xinhua
TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer resigned Wednesday amid continued US pressure on the popular video-sharing app.
Xinhua

TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer has quit the company one day after the Los Angeles-based tech firm filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration over an executive order banning any transactions with its parent company ByteDance.

ByteDance confirmed the news to Xinhua on Wednesday night.

In a news release, ByteDance said the company respected Mayer's decision and thanked him for his efforts for TikTok's development, adding TikTok's US General Manager Vanessa Pappas will take up Mayer's position and continue working as leader of the team in the country.

The 58-year-old Mayer joined TikTok on June 1. Prior to his appointment as the company's CEO, he was chairman of the Direct-to-Consumer and International division of The Walt Disney Company.

Mayer on Wednesday sent a letter to employees, noting that ByteDance's founder Zhang Yiming understood his decision and supported it, saying this decision "had nothing to do with the company, what I see for our future, or the belief I have in what we are building."

"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," the letter reads.

"At the same time, 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."

Mayer also emphasized that even though he quit, he had tremendous confidence that TikTok is a safe, unique, creative and inclusive platform to its almost 100 million American users.

TikTok is a video-sharing, music and social networking service owned by Chinese technology company ByteDance, and specializes in user-made short videos.

Trump and a number of other US politicians have repeatedly speculated that TikTok poses a national security threat because it is owned by a Chinese company, though no evidence has been provided to support these allegations.

Earlier this month, Trump cited the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and issued executive orders banning any US transactions with TikTok and WeChat, starting in 45 days.

TikTok filed a lawsuit over the executive order Monday, arguing that the order is unconstitutional and a misuse of the IEEPA.

"We cannot at this point predict the outcome of the litigation with certainty, but a US court will be reluctant to rule against the president on an issue of national security," Dan Roules, managing partner of the Shanghai office of law firm Squire Patton Boggs, told Xinhua on Tuesday.

Roules, who has been working in China over the past 25 years for the renowned international law firm, agreed that the lawsuit could buy time for ByteDance to close the deal on the sale of TikTok to any of several possible US companies interested in purchasing, including Microsoft, Twitter and Oracle. 

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