- Kevin Mayer will leave the entertainment and theme parks giant Disney to become the chief executive officer (CEO) of TikTok– short video sharing app.
Kevin Mayer will leave the entertainment and theme parks giant Disney to become the chief executive officer (CEO) of TikTok, the famous video app operated by China’s ByteDance Technology Co, the companies said Monday.
Mayer led the successful launch of the Disney streaming service in November but Disney ‘s new chief executive was passed over in February.
Mayer ‘s appointment will take effect June 1, when he’ll also become ByteDance’s chief operating officer, the Chinese company said.
TikTok, which allows users to create short videos with special effects, has become widely popular with U.S. teenagers performing viral challenges matching music clips from the library of the application. TikTok indicated ambitions to develop a music streaming service, announcing in January that expanding its music offerings was partnering with U.K.-based music rights agency Merlin.
However, Chinese ownership of ByteDance has sparked concerns in Washington over the handling of personal data by TikTok. The business is using advanced artificial intelligence to make video suggestions based on the actions of users on the application.
In November, a national security review of ByteDance’s $1 billion acquisition of the Musical.ly social media app, which became TikTok, was initiated by the US Government. Two senators also introduced a bill banning federal employees from using TikTok on government-issued phones.
Republican Josh Hawley, one of those senators, said TikTok had previously told him that his executives were unable to testify before Congress because they were in China.
“But this new executive is staying in the USA,” Hawley wrote Monday on Twitter. “I’m looking forward to hearing from him, on paper.”
To alleviate fears, ByteDance has stepped up efforts to distinguish TikTok from several of its Chinese companies, and in recent months have made many high-profile executives hire. In January, after recruiting Vanessa Pappas, a veteran YouTube executive, it hired former Microsoft intellectual property chief Erich Andersen as the global general counsel to manage its U.S. operations last year.
In February, rumors about Mayer ‘s future started to circulate after Disney announced Robert Chapek as chief executive officer. Mayer, who according to a former Disney executive has a “loud and strong” style, was seen as a dealer who had just recently been entrusted with a broad profit-and – loss division.
A spokesperson for ByteDance said the company had “no doubts” about Mayer ‘s operating expertise. “Every company will be happy to have him on board in our business.”
Within five months, Disney collected more than 50 million subscribers under Mayer ‘s leadership.
Disney has appointed Rebecca Campbell, a 23-year-old veteran organization, to replace Mayer as head of the Direct-to-Consumer and International Division, which includes Disney’s digital media divisions, to drive future growth.