Disney streaming chief Kevin Mayer resigns to become TikTok CEO

Walt Disney's top streaming executive, Kevin Mayer, will leave the entertainment and theme parks giant to become the chief executive officer of TikTok, the favored video app owned by China's ByteDance, the businesses said on Monday.

Mayer led the successful launch of the Disney+ streaming service in November but in February was skipped over as Disney's new chief executive.
Kevin Mayer

Mayer's appointment are going to be effective June 1, when he also will become chief operating officer of ByteDance, the Chinese company said.

TikTok, which allows users to make short videos with special effects, has become wildly fashionable U.S. teenagers doing viral challenges that pair dances with music clips from the app's library. TikTok has hinted at ambitions to create a music streaming business, announcing in January that it had been partnering with U.K.-based music rights agency Merlin to expand its musical selections.

ByteDance's Chinese ownership, however, has sparked concerns in Washington about TikTok's handling of private data. the corporate uses sophisticated AI to create video recommendations supported users' behavior on the app.

In November, the U.S. government launched a national security review of ByteDance's $1 billion acquisition of social media app Musical.ly, which became TikTok. Two senators introduced a bill to ban federal employees from using TikTok on government-issued phones.

One of those senators, Republican Josh Hawley, said TikTok previously told him its executives couldn't testify before Congress because they were located in China.

"But this new executive lives within the USA," Hawley wrote on Twitter on Monday. "I anticipate to hearing from him. Under oath."

To appease concerns, ByteDance has stepped up efforts to separate TikTok from much of its Chinese businesses and has made several high-profile executive hires in recent months. It appointed former Microsoft property chief Erich Andersen as global general counsel in January, after hiring Vanessa Pappas, a veteran YouTube executive, to run its U.S. operations last year.

Speculation over Mayer's future began swirling in February after Disney named Robert Chapek as chief executive officer. Mayer, who features a "loud and forceful" style, in line with a former Disney executive, was seen as a dealmaker who had only recently been put responsible of an outsized profit-and-loss division. His relative lack of operating experience was a main reason he didn't get the highest job, the previous executive said.

A ByteDance spokesman said the corporate had "no reservations" about Mayer's operational experience. "Any company in our sector would be delighted have him onboard."

Under Mayer's leadership, Disney+ collected quite 50 million subscribers in five months.

Disney named Rebecca Campbell, a 23-year company veteran, to replace Mayer as head of the direct-to-consumer and international division, which incorporates the streaming media units Disney is relying on to drive future growth.

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