TikTok Chief Executive Officer Kevin Mayer has resigned just months after taking the helm of the viral short video app.
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The business owned by China’s ByteDance Ltd is also ready to sell its U.S. business, with Microsoft Corp. confirming to be in negotiations to buy TikTok’s operations in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Negotiations are also open for Walmart, and according to Bloomberg News also Oracle Corp. is considering a bid, followed by large venture capital and private equity firms including Sequoia Capital and General Atlantic.
Mayer told employees of his decision in an internal memo and a company spokeswoman confirmed his resignation. Vanessa Pappas, currently general manager of ByteDance’s prized international service, will take his place.
Mayer’s departure adds to the turmoil engulfing the world’s largest startup, which is grappling with the forced sale of operations in the U.S., possible restrictions in the U.K. and an outright ban in India, TikTok’s largest market.
ByteDance appointed Mayer in May to try and smooth relations with Washington, attempting to make the case that TikTok operates as a separate entity from its Beijing-based parent to assuage concerns about national security.
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Yet mere months later, the Trump administration forbade U.S. dealings with the viral video app and ordered its sale. That impending ban cast TikTok into the heart of worsening tensions between Beijing and Washington, which has leveled sanctions against a plethora of its fellow Chinese giants from Tencent Holdings Ltd. to Huawei Technologies Co.