According to several media reports, TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer has walked out on his co-workers. A former senior executive of Walt Disney, he had been head of TikTok for three months. It is a division of China’s ByteDance. President Trump has threatened to shutter TikTok in the United States if it is not sold by 45 days from when that threat was made on August 6. The accusation against TikTok is that it could pass along data from U.S. users to Chinese interests, which makes it a security risk. Mayer could have at the very least stayed until a final decision was made about the future.
The note Mayer wrote to explain his decision read:
I understand that the role that I signed up for—including running TikTok globally—will look very different as a result of the U.S. administration’s action to push for a selloff of the U.S. business. I’ve always been globally focused in my work, and leading a global team that includes TikTok U.S. was a big draw for me.
Put another way, he did not want to run a smaller company. His ambitions overrode any commitment he had to the people who worked for him.
Mayer is not the kind of executive any company should want at its head. He left Disney when he was passed over for the CEO job. The TikTok job was a chance to run a rapidly growing company that had become what many believed was in the vanguard of social media.
Mayer must have had a major say in the decision by TikTok to sue the White House as a means to block the decision to ban it. Even so, he did not wait out the ruling on the legal action. Essentially, he decided to let this decision and his responsibility to the company and its people go.