May 18, 2020
In a surprise move, Kevin Mayer, chairman of Disney’s direct-to-consumer & International unit, is leaving to become COO of the corporate parent of Chinese-owned social media platform TikTok, effective June 1.
Mayer, who has spent 25 years at Disney, will report directly to Yiming Zhang, founder/CEO of ByteDance. He will be charged with driving the global development at ByteDance, as well as overseeing corporate functions, including corporate development, sales, marketing, public affairs, security, moderation, and legal.
In his role as COO, Mayer will lead music, gaming, Helo, emerging businesses, and will also serve as CEO of TikTok, leading the rapidly growing platform as it continues to build its global community of creators, users, and brands.
“Kevin’s wealth of experience building successful global businesses makes him an outstanding fit for our mission of inspiring creativity for users globally,” Zhang said in a statement.
As chairman of Disney’s revamped home entertainment unit, consumer products and international business, Mayer oversaw rollout of Disney+, the company’s flagship subscription streaming video service. Additionally, Mayer led the company’s other direct-to-consumer businesses, including Hulu, ESPN+, and India’s Hotstar, as well as overseeing Disney’s international operations, global ad sales, and global content sales.
“Like everyone else, I’ve been impressed watching [ByteDance] build something incredibly rare in TikTok — a creative, positive online global community,” Mayer said.
The executive said he is grateful to Bob Iger for his visionary leadership and mentorship over many years, and Bob Chapek, whom Mayer said he greatly admires.
Alex Zhu, the current president of TikTok, will transition to ByteDance VP of product and strategy, where he will focus on his primary passion overseeing strategy and product design.
Kelly Zhang and Lidong Zhang will continue to lead the business as CEO and Chairman of ByteDance China, respectively, reporting to Yiming Zhang, as ByteDance’s global CEO. They manage a range of products, including Douyin, Toutiao, and Xigua, in addition to their duties leading the business and operational teams in China.
In the management restructuring, TikTok said its national and regional management leaders would remain in their roles with their current responsibilities, reporting to Mayer.