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Kevin Mayer, the Disney executive who oversaw the launch of the streaming service Disney+, is leaving his post at the entertainment giant to become CEO of the fast-growing social media app TikTok.
Disney veteran Rebecca Campbell will succeed him as chairman of direct-to-consumer and international.
“I am very proud of what our extraordinarily talented direct-to-consumer and international team has accomplished in creating and delivering a world-class portfolio of streaming services, particularly Disney+,” Mayer said Monday in a statement.
Mayer joins TikTok at a pivotal moment for the app, which is owned by Chinese conglomerate ByteDance. Less than three years old, it has been on a quick ascent that has been aided by the coronavirus pandemic. In March, the app surpassed 2 billion worldwide downloads, according to third-party measurement firm Sensor Tower. Mayer also will serve as COO of ByteDance.
Mayer, who will report to ByteDance founder and CEO Yiming Zhang, also will face the tough task of easing concerns about TikTok. U.S. regulators are looking into whether the app is a national security risk. In early March, it also was hit with new complaints about its collection of children’s data.
“Kevin’s wealth of experience building successful global businesses makes him an outstanding fit for our mission of inspiring creativity for users globally,” Yiming said in a statement. “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. I look forward to working very closely with Kevin on our global development and the next chapter of the ByteDance story.”
Mayer’s departure from Disney comes three months after he was passed over as successor to longtime CEO Bob Iger, a role that instead was handed to Bob Chapek, who was chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products. Mayer was seen as a likely contender for the role given his long tenure at Disney, where he served as chief strategy officer, architecting such deals as its $71 billion acquisition of the Fox assets. He was upped to an operational role leading streaming for Disney in 2018 and oversaw the launches of ESPN+ and high-priority direct-to-consumer producer Disney+. Under his leadership, Disney+ has become an immediate success, garnering nearly 55 million subscribers in its first six months. His contract with Disney ran through the end of 2022.
“Kevin has had an extraordinary impact on our company over the years, most recently as head of our direct-to-consumer business,” Chapek said in a statement. “He has done a masterful job of overseeing and growing our portfolio of streaming services while bringing together the creative and technological assets required to launch the hugely successful Disney+ globally. Having worked alongside Kevin for many years on the senior management team, I am enormously grateful to him for his support and friendship and wish him tremendous success going forward.”
Campbell, the new chairman overseeing Disney+, is a 23-year veteran of the company who most recently was president of Disneyland Resort, where she oversaw Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. She also has served as president of Disney in Europe, Middle East and Africa and as president of ABC Owned Television Stations. The news of her appointment was made at the same time that Disney announced Josh D’Amaro as the new chairman overseeing Disney’s Parks, Experiences and Consumer Products group.
Though he has spent much of his career at Disney, Mayer does have some outside experience to bring to TikTok. He had brief stints as the CEO of Playboy.com and Clear Channel Interactive during the early 2000s.
Said Mayer, “It’s truly been a privilege for me to be part of the iconic Walt Disney Co., and I am enormously grateful to Bob Iger for his trust and confidence and to Bob Chapek and his senior management team for their collaboration and support over the years.”
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