TikTok appoints former Disney exec Kevin Mayer as CEO

19 May 2020

An iPhone displaying the TikTok app icon. Image: Primakov/Depositphotos

Disney’s streaming boss, Kevin Mayer, has been appointed as CEO of TikTok and COO of its parent company.

On Monday (18 May), Kevin Mayer was appointed chief executive officer of TikTok. Mayer was previously Disney’s head of streaming, leading the recent launch of the Disney+ streaming platform.

TikTok, the video-sharing platform that is popular among young users, is owned by Chinese technology company ByteDance. In his new role, Mayer will report to ByteDance CEO Yiming Zhang. He has also been named as chief operating officer of ByteDance.

In a statement on Mayer’s appointment, ByteDance said that he will lead music, gaming and emerging businesses while working as CEO of TikTok as it continues to build its community of creators, users and brands. His appointment will begin on 1 June.

“Kevin’s wealth of experience building successful global businesses makes him an outstanding fit for our mission of inspiring creativity for users globally,” Zhang said.

“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.”

The new CEO of TikTok

According to the Guardian, Mayer was “passed over” for the job of Disney’s new chief executive earlier this year. In February, the company appointed Bob Chapek to replace outgoing CEO Bob Iger.

In his role at Disney, Mayer served as chair of direct-to-customer and international, where he oversaw the development and roll-out of streaming service Disney+. He also led the company’s other direct-to-consumer businesses, including Hulu, ESPN+ and Hotstar.

Speaking about his move, Mayer commented: “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.

“On a personal note, I’m thankful to the entire Disney team for the tremendous accomplishments we achieved together. I’m especially grateful to Bob Iger for his visionary leadership and mentorship over many years, and Bob Chapek whom I greatly admire.”

An iPhone displaying the TikTok app icon. Image: Primakov/Depositphotos

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic