May 25, 2020

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Disney’s Kevin Mayer Exiting to Become CEO of TikTok

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Disney veteran Kevin Mayer is leaving the company to become CEO of TikTok, the short-form video platform.

Mayer also is being named chief operating officer of ByteDance, the Chinese internet giant that is TikTok’s parent company. He most recently was chairman of Disney’s Direct-to-Consumer and International segment since its founding in 2018. In that role, he oversaw the launches of Disney Plus and ESPN Plus and the integration of Hulu.

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Succeeding Mayer is Disneyland Resort president Rebecca Campbell, a rising star at the media conglomerate, who was named chairman of Direct-to-Consumer and International. In addition, Walt Disney World Resort president Josh D’Amaro has been named chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, taking over that role from Bob Chapek, who was elevated to Disney CEO in February. Mayer had widely been considered a front-runner for the Disney top job after Bob Iger stepped aside.

Mayer, prior to his most recent role leading Disney’s DTCI organization, served as the company’s chief strategy officer and was instrumental in wrangling a number of strategic acquisitions, including the deals for 21st Century Fox and BAMTech.

“Kevin has had an extraordinary impact on our company over the years, most recently as head of our direct-to-consumer business,” Chapek said in a statement. “He has done a masterful job of overseeing and growing our portfolio of streaming services, while bringing together the creative and technological assets required to launch the hugely successful Disney Plus globally.”

Campbell, who will now oversee Disney Plus and the rest of the company’s streaming businesses, has been with the company for 23 years. Under her purview in her new position are Disney Plus, ESPN Plus, Hulu and Hotstar, as well as Disney’s international channels, Fox Networks International and Star India. Prior to leading Disneyland, Campbell served as president its Disney’s businesses in Europe, the Middle East and Africa and was responsible for launching Disney Plus in the region. Chapek called Campbell “an exceptionally talented and dedicated leader with a wealth of experience in media, operations and international businesses.”

At TikTok and ByteDance, Mayer will report directly to ByteDance founder/CEO Yiming Zhang. “Kevin’s wealth of experience building successful global businesses makes him an outstanding fit for our mission of inspiring creativity for users globally,” Yiming said in a statement. “As one of the world’s most accomplished entertainment executives, Kevin is incredibly well placed to take ByteDance’s portfolio of products to the next level.”

With Mayer’s jump to ByteDance, current TikTok president Alex Zhu will move into a new role as ByteDance VP of product and strategy, overseeing strategy and product design. As COO of ByteDance, Mayer will oversee TikTok as well as music, gaming, Helo (a social-media platform in India) and the company’s emerging businesses.

In a statement provided by TikTok, Mayer said, “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to join the amazing team at ByteDance. Like everyone else, I’ve been impressed watching the company build something incredibly rare in TikTok — a creative, positive online global community — and I’m excited to help lead the next phase of ByteDance’s journey as the company continues to expand its breadth of products across every region of the world.”

Mayer will remain based in Los Angeles, where TikTok recently opened new offices in Culver City. He will officially join the company June 1.

As chief exec of TikTok, Mayer will face multiple concerns that have arisen as the app boomed in popularity about the platform’s security and privacy. Those include its ties to China’s government, as well as allegations that TikTok continues to violate a U.S. children’s privacy law. In March, TikTok hired cybersecurity veteran Roland Cloutier as chief information security officer.

Mayer first joined Disney in 1993 let strategy and business development for all of Disney’s Interactive/Internet and TV businesses worldwide. Later, he became executive VP of the internet group, responsible for the operations, business plans, creative direction and distribution of Disney’s web sites, including ESPN.com and ABCNews.com.

In 2000, he left Disney to become CEO of Clear Channel Interactive and two years after that moved to LEK Consulting, where he served as partner and head of the global media and entertainment practice. He rejoined Disney in 2005 as EVP of corporate strategy.

Elaine Low contributed to this report.

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