TikTok has named former high-ranking Disney executive Kevin Mayer as their new CEO, CNN Business reports. Mayer, 58, leaves Disney to become chief operating officer of ByteDance, the Chinese tech company that owns TikTok. He will start on June 1.
His departure from Disney comes months after CEO Bob Iger picked Parks and Resorts chairman Bob Chapek as his replacment, even though Mayer was believed to have the inside track on becoming Iger's successor. Mayer shot down speculation that his decision had something to do with being overlooked by Iger. "I enjoy my job, I admire Bob Chapek, and Disney’s a fabulous company," he told CNBC’s Julia Boorstin. "When you have an opportunity like this you don’t turn it down. I’m not getting any younger and it’s such a good opportunity. But I love Disney and had no desire to leave."
Mayer played a significant role in Disney’s acquisitions of Pixar, Lucasfilm, Marvel, and 21st Century Fox. He served as Disney's Direct-to-Consumer and International chairman since its inception in 2018. Under his leadership, Mayer oversaw the company's entry into the streaming wars with Disney+, a move Iger touted as "the most important product" to launch since he has been at the helm.
Disney+ eclipsed 50 million subscribers in April while UK market research firm Ampere Analysis reported that 50 percent of U.S. internet users with children under 10 years old have subscribed to the Mouse House's streaming service. "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 in a statement. Rebecca Campbell, President of Disneyland Resort, will take over as chairman of the Direct-to-Consumer and International division.
TikTok has been searching for a CEO for quite some time, and their patience was rewarded with landing Mayer. TikTok cracked 2 billion downloads, making it the third most-downloaded app, ahead of Facebook and Instagram, as of November 2019. The company's overall success has overshadowed accusations that the company has been secretly collecting vast amounts of personal user data.