Kevin Mayer didn’t mince words about what led to his quick exit from TikTok after only four months as its CEO last year. In an interview with CNBC, Mayer agreed with the assertion that he was “screwed over” by former President Donald Trump.
When CNBC reporter Alex Sherman asked Mayer point blank: “Do you feel screwed over by the Trump administration?” Mayer responded by saying “Uh, yeah. Yes. That’s the short answer to it.”
Mayer resigned from the company in August after less than four months amid an ongoing public dispute between the company’s Chinese corporate parent the former president’s administration. Mayer even cited a “political environment” that “has sharply changed” for the decision.
TikTok faced a ban in the U.S. during the second half of last year, when then-President Trump signed an executive order claiming the app, which has about 100 million American users, posed a national security threat because of its close ties to China’s communist government. In response, TikTok said it has never shared user information with the Chinese government — although under Chinese law, the app’s parent company, ByteDance, would be compelled to share user information with government officials.
“There might have been reasons. [It’s] hard to determine exactly all the dynamics and the machinations of what they were thinking and why they did what they did. The Trump administration, of course, was known to do things on the fly and without a lot of thinking behind it,” Mayer said to CNBC on Wednesday. “The job that I signed up for was going to be gone. And in the next few days was going to be gone.”
Mayer resigned before TikTok’s parent ByteDance reached a deal with Oracle to acquire its U.S. operations, though that deal was held up in regulatory limbo following involvement from the Chinese government.
Circumstances have now changed since President Biden took office, with NPR recently reporting the Trump administration’s plan to ban TikTok if it didn’t sell its U.S. operations has been “put on ice” by the current administration.