Disney (NBC) (05/19/20)— Kevin Mayer, a high-ranking Disney executive who was recently passed over for the company’s CEO position, will join the social media platform TikTok as its chief executive, Disney said Monday.
Mayer was the head of Disney’s direct-to-consumer unit and oversaw Disney+, the company’s new streaming service. He was thought to be in contention for CEO, but he was passed over this year when Bob Iger named Bob Chapek as his successor.
Mayer will be replaced by Rebecca Campbell, president of the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, and former head of Disney’s Europe, Middle East, and Africa division.
In a statement, Chapek said Campbell had played “a critical role in the launch of Disney+” as head of the international unit. “She is an exceptionally talented and dedicated leader with a wealth of experience in media, operations, and international businesses,” he said.
Disney is enduring what could be the greatest challenge in its nearly 100-year history. The coronavirus pandemic has shut down theme parks, closed cinemas, and halted content production, dealing a blow to nearly every aspect of its business. The company recently said the pandemic has cost it $1.4 billion so far, with the worst still to come.
Meanwhile, TikTok is ascendant. The wildly popular video-sharing app, which is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, has been downloaded more than 2 billion times globally. In the U.S., the app was downloaded more than 11 million times in March.
In addition to his role as TikTok CEO, Mayer will serve as ByteDance’s chief operating officer. TikTok had been in search of a new chief executive for months, particularly as ByteDance faces growing scrutiny in Congress over its access to U.S. users’ data.
ByteDance is valued at roughly $75 billion, and TikTok, which is based in Culver City, California, has more than 400 U.S. employees.
TikTok has been in search of a new CEO for several months as it seeks to bolster its media business — it is reportedly pursuing new television projects and creating a music service — and navigate increased scrutiny from Washington.
Mayer, a well-known executive in U.S. media and entertainment circles, will serve as an ambassador for those efforts.
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