In the first public recounting of his departure from ByteDance last year, Kevin Mayer, the former Disney executive who was TikTok’s CEO for three months, agreed that he felt screwed over by the Trump administration, according to a transcript of his interview with US television channel CNBC.
Mayer abruptly resigned from his job helming the globally popular short video-sharing app last August, after then-US president Donald Trump signed two executive orders within eight days that sought to force Beijing-based ByteDance to divest TikTok’s operations in the US.
As soon as the news emerged, Mayer said he knew his new job a dual role that also put him in charge of ByteDance’s operations as the COO would vanish.
It did look as if that was a serious ruling by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) guys, that it had to be divested and it was going to be divested. It’s true that the job that I signed up for was going to be gone. And in the next few days was going to be gone. It was, like, extremely imminent.Kevin Mayer – Ex-TikTok CEO
Mayer felt screwed over by the Trump administration
The Trump administration, of course, was known to do things on the fly and without a lot of thinking behind it. I don’t know what’s going on with the Trump administration’s thinking at any given moment, but it seemed pretty serious and seemed like they were intent upon doing it.
As the days went by, Microsoft, Walmart and finally Oracle emerged as potential buyers of TikTok’s US operations. By September, the last two companies teamed up and reached a deal with ByteDance.
Mayer told CNBC that he had no interest in working under TikTok’s US buyers. He had planned to wait until the Oracle deal was announced to disclose his resignation, but things did not go as planned.
Kevin Mayer, then-chief strategy officer at Disney, visits the company’s accelerator space in Glendale, California on July 13, 2015.
Mayer said he remains optimistic about TikTok’s future.
I do think the magic sauce there is in their artificial intelligence technology, coupled with machine learning, coupled with the ingestion of tens of millions of videos every day and growing. So their ability to stay on top of that and to keep putting relevant videos in front of the relevant people that want to see them in real time … it’s hard to imagine that becoming irrelevant, almost ever, because that’s a really powerful product proposition.Kevin Mayer – Ex-TikTok CEO