Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Disney Streaming Chief Heading To Tik Tok As New CEO

Ken Mayer
Kevin Mayer, who was passed over for the top job at Walt Disney Co. is becoming chief executive of TikTok, in a jump from one of the entertainment industry’s most venerable names to one of its buzziest new arrivals, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The longtime media executive, recently in charge of the Disney+ streaming service, is joining Chinese tech giant Bytedance Ltd. in newly created roles as chief operating officer and head of its blockbuster short video app TikTok. He will be in charge of Bytedance’s global expansion, including in its music and gaming businesses. He will start June 1.

Both TikTok and Disney+ have logged pandemic-fueled surges in popularity as people stuck in lockdowns are glued to their phones and TVs for entertainment.

Mayer is currently chairman of the entertainment giant’s direct-to-consumer and international segment, including Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+, making him one of the highest-profile American executives to move to a Chinese company.

He had been considered the in-house favorite to get the Disney CEO job by many colleagues within Hollywood, given the role he played in orchestrating Disney’s biggest deals and his recent work in charge of its streaming strategy. But in late February, Disney said that Bob Chapek, then the head of its parks and consumer products division, would become CEO.

Mayer said he would be growing Bytedance’s various businesses and seeking new opportunities.

“I will be looking at TikTok and looking at closely related and adjacent businesses that are large,” he said. “Gaming, music comes to mind. Video, writ large, is an interesting opportunity.”

Known for its short, often lighthearted user-created videos, the TikTok app has been downloaded over 2 billion times on Google Play and Apple Inc.’s App Store since 2017, according to research firm Sensor Tower. In the first three months of 2020, TikTok racked up more than 315 million downloads, the most of any app in a single quarter.

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