The Walt Disney Firm’s head of direct-to-consumer and international operations, Kevin Mayer, is leaving to become CEO and COO of the popular video app’s parent company, ByteDance.
TikTok President Alex Zhu (previously the co-founder of the predecessor app Musical.ly) becomes ByteDance’s vice president of product and strategy. Founder Yiming Zhang will continue to serve as ByteDance’s CEO.
Mayer said in a statement, “I’m happy to have the opportunity to join the incredible team at ByteDance.” “Like everyone else, I’ve been amazed by ByteDance’s development of TikTok, a creative, positive global online community, and I’m delighted to lead the next part of the company’s journey as it continues to grow its product portfolio in every region of the world.”
The story was first reported by The New York Times and verified by ByteDance and Disney in separate statements.
Mayer was responsible for supervising Disney’s streaming strategy, which included the debut of Disney+ in the fall of 2018 and its subsequent growth to over 50 million users. He was also viewed as a potential successor to Disney CEO Bob Iger; but, in February, Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products Chairman Bob Chapek was named CEO.
Mayer was certainly a desirable candidate for the position of CEO of TikTok not only because of his streaming success but also because employing a prominent American executive may alleviate legislators’ security fears over the app’s Chinese ownership.
Rebecca Campbell (previously president of Disneyland Resort, who also worked on the Disney+ launch as the company’s president for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa) is replacing Mayer at Disney, while Josh D’Amaro assumes Chapek’s previous position as chairman of Disney parks, experiences, and products.
Chapek, in a statement, stated:
Rebecca is the most qualified candidate to head this initiative as we seek to grow our direct-to-consumer company and continue to expand into new markets. She is an incredibly gifted and devoted leader with extensive expertise in media, operations, and international business. She played a crucial role in the global launch of Disney+ while leading the EMEA area, and her strong commercial acumen and creative vision will be important for the future of our established and successful streaming services.
Kevin Mayer Bio
Kevin A. Mayer (born in 1962) is an American business leader and DAZN Group’s chairman. Additionally, he serves as co-chairman and co-chief executive officer of Forest Road Acquisition Corp II, as well as a senior advisor to Forest Road Acquisition Corp.
In 2020, he was the CEO of TikTok and the COO of its parent firm, ByteDance Ltd. Mayer is the former chairman of The Walt Disney Company’s Direct-to-Consumer & International division. He was formerly the senior executive vice president and chief strategy officer at Disney, where he oversaw the company’s purchases of Pixar, Marvel Entertainment, BamTech, Lucasfilm, and 21st Century Fox. He was also responsible for the sales of Miramax and ABC Radio.
Mayer obtained a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a master’s degree in electrical engineering from San Diego State University, and a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard Business School.
Mayer began working for The Walt Disney Company in 1993, where he was responsible for the international strategy and business development of Disney’s Interactive/Internet and television operations. He was eventually appointed to executive vice president of the Disney Internet group.
In February 2000, Mayer was appointed CEO of Playboy.com, the digital arm of Chicago’s Playboy Enterprises.
Mayer departed Playboy in September 2000 and was named Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Clear Channel Interactive, a branch of Clear Channel Worldwide. He held this role through December 2001. In February 2002, he became a partner and leader of the worldwide media and entertainment practice at L.E.K. Consulting.
Mayer left The Walt Disney Startup in May 2020 to become COO of Chinese internet technology company ByteDance Ltd and CEO of its successful social media application TikTok. Three months after being hired, Mayer announced on August 26 that he would stand down from both positions and depart ByteDance altogether.