SAN FRANCISCO (REUTERS) – Walmart said it was joining Microsoft in a bid for social media company TikTok’s US assets, revealing its plans hours after Chief Executive Kevin Mayer said he would step down.
Mayer is leaving just three months after joining, in the middle of negotiations to sell the Chinese-owned video app’s US operations to Microsoft Corp or Oracle Corp.
Retailer Walmart lauded TikTok’s e-commerce and advertising capabilities. The sale of TikTok is happening as the company is under fire from the administration of US President Donald Trump as a potential national security risk due to the vast amount of private data the app is compiling on US consumers.
The Trump administration has demanded that China’s ByteDance, which owns TikTok globally, sell its US operations.
Earlier this week, TikTok also sued over an executive order effectively banning it in the United States.
“We are confident that a Walmart and Microsoft partnership would meet both the expectations of US TikTok users while satisfying the concerns of US government regulators,” Walmart said in a statement.
Mayer will be replaced by US General Manager Vanessa Pappas on an interim basis, TikTok said in a statement.
Mayer was Walt Disney Co’s top streaming executive before becoming chief executive officer of TikTok and chief operating officer of parent ByteDance on June 1.
“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,” Mayer said in a letter to employees.
“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.”
ByteDance founder and CEO Zhang Yiming said in a separate letter reviewed by Reuters that the company was “moving quickly to find resolutions to the issues that we face globally, particularly in the US and India”.
He said Mayer had joined just as the company was “entering arguably our most challenging moment”. “It is never easy to come into a leadership position in a company moving as quickly as we are, and the circumstances following his arrival made it all the more complex,” Zhang said.
Mayer was scheduled to leave TikTok as part of the planned sale, as the global role he had been hired for would no longer exist, according to a person familiar with the matter.
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