Kevin Mayer, head of The Disney’s D2C and international business, is leaving the company to become CEO of TikTok, as well as COO of the popular video app’s parent company ByteDance.
TikTok Founder Yiming Zhang will continue to be the CEO of ByteDance, while TikTok President Alex Zhu becomes ByteDance’s vice president of product and strategy.
“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to join the amazing team at ByteDance,” Mayer said in a statement. “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.”
The news was first reported by The New York Times and subsequently confirmed in announcements from ByteDance and Disney.
Kevin Mayer’s role in Disney involved overseeing streaming strategy, including the launch of Disney+ last year, which has already grown to more than 50 million subscribers. He was also seen as a potential successor to Disney CEO Bob Iger; instead, Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products Chairman Bob Chapek was named CEO in a sudden announcement in February.
Mayer was likely a good choice to lead TikTok not just because of his streaming success, but also because hiring a high-profile American executive could help address politicians’ security concerns about the app’s Chinese ownership.
Over at Disney, Rebecca Campbell is taking over Mayer’s role, while Josh D’Amaro is taking on Chapek’s old job as chairman of Disney parks, experiences, and products.
In a statement, Chapek said:
“As we look to grow our direct-to-consumer business and continue to expand into new markets, I can think of no one better suited to lead this effort than Rebecca. She is an exceptionally talented and dedicated leader with a wealth of experience in media, operations, and international businesses. She played a critical role in the launch of Disney+ globally while overseeing the EMEA region, and her strong business acumen and creative vision will be invaluable in taking our successful and well-established streaming services into the future.”