As TikTok and Oracle ORCL -0.3% work out an acquisition deal, the social media company is also thinking about who will be its next CEO after its last chief, Kevin Mayer, departed after only a few months.
One of the people in the running for the job is Instagram billionaire Kevin Systrom, who left Facebook in 2018, according to a New York Times NYT -1.2% story. The discussions between Systrom and Tiktok are only in the early stages, the Times reports. TikTok could not be reached to comment for this story. A spokesperson for Systrom declined to comment.
TikTok’s divestiture from its Chinese-owned parent company ByteDance very much remains a work in progress. Bloomberg reported this afternoon that the U.S. Treasury department has tentatively approved a deal that would leave TikTok’s U.S. operations largely in the hands of American stakeholders, including Oracle. ByteDance still needs to get approval from President Trump by Sunday, the day when a Trump-issued executive order goes into effect that would effectively ban TikTok in the U.S.
Mayer was seen as a strong choice when his hiring was announced in May. He had spent years at Disney DIS -0.1% overseeing its M&A deals and working on the launch of its streaming service, Disney+. But Mayer unexpectedly departed last month, saying he had not expected to be caught up in tensions between the U.S. government and China. Vanessa Pappas, TikTok’s general manager, has been serving as TikTok’s interim chief.
In Systrom, TikTok would get someone who has already created one social media giant—and someone immensely familiar with one of TikTok’s main rivals: Mark Zuckerberg. Systrom sold Instagram to Zuckerberg and Facebook in 2012 for almost $1 billion and then built it up to over a half-billion users before leaving.
Zuckerberg and Facebook clearly see TikTok as a threat already. Instagram has rolled out a number of new features that copy TikTok, including a short-form-video editing tool and changed its main feed to make it more like TikTok. In Washington, Zuckerberg reportedly stressed to politicians that TikTok was a threat to American users; Trump and other Republicans have expressed worry that TikTok may mishandle user data to satisfy the Chinese government.
Add Systrom to the mix, and the battle between TikTok and Facebook becomes one of the most intriguing rivalries in the corporate world.
By Abram Brown,Forbes Staff