The big picture: Everyone saw the impressive growth of TikTok into one of the biggest social platforms, but the company has earned a bad reputation of censorship that may or may not be tied to the Chinese government. Now with an ex-Disney executive at the helm, it has a chance at keeping its growth trajectory and winning back the public trust.
Kevin Mayer, who previously served as chairman of Disney’s direct-to-consumer and international division, is now headed to ByteDance where he will use his 25 years of experience to be the new CEO of daughter company TikTok, which is well known for being one of the hottest social apps among teenagers.
Mayer will also serve as Chief Operating Officer (COO) for ByteDance, assuming the responsibility of managing global expansion across different markets like music and gaming. In addition to that, he will be in charge of sales, marketing, public affairs, security, and legal matters, and will start exercising that role from June 1 and report to Yiming Zhang, ByteDance’s Founder and CEO.
Yiming noted in a press release that “Kevin’s wealth of experience building successful global businesses makes him an outstanding fit for our mission of inspiring creativity for users globally. 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.”
Initially, Kevin Mayer was a prime candidate to take the place of Bob Iger at the helm of Disney, especially after he oversaw the successful development and rollout of Disney+ as well as reaching the 50 million subscribers milestone much earlier than originally planned. In addition to that, he also oversaw other Disney properties such as Hulu, Hotstar, and ESPN+.
It’ll be interesting to see how Mayer will steer TikTok, but one thing is clear – the company needed new leadership to improve its public image, which has suffered from the US government’s suspicions that its operations are tied to the will of the Chinese government. To that end, parent company ByteDance is also in the process of moving its operations outside of China to appease the US government.