FILE PHOTO: Kevin Mayer, Disney’s head of direct-to-consumer division, on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., October 22, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
(Reuters) – Walt Disney Co’s (DIS.N) top streaming executive, Kevin Mayer, will leave the entertainment and theme parks giant to become the chief executive officer of Chinese company ByteDance Technology Co’s popular video app TikTok, the companies said on Monday.
Mayer led the successful launch of the Disney+ streaming service in November but in February was passed over for the chief executive job at Disney.
TikTok, which allows users to create short videos with special effects, is rising in popularity among teenagers and has become a cultural trendsetter.
The Chinese ownership of ByteDance, however, has sparked concerns in Washington.
In November, the U.S. government launched a national security review of ByteDance’s $1 billion acquisition of social media app Musical.ly. Two senators have also introduced a bill to ban federal employees from using TikTok on government-issued phones.
To appease those concerns, ByteDance has stepped up efforts to separate TikTok from much of its Chinese businesses and has made several high-profile executive hires in recent months.
Under Mayer’s leadership, Disney+ signed up more than 50 million subscribers in five months.
Disney named Rebecca Campbell, a 23-year company veteran, to replace Mayer as head of the direct-to-consumer and international division. That includes the streaming media units that Disney is counting on to drive future growth while cable television viewership declines.
Reporting by Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru, Lisa Richwine in Los Angeles and Katie Paul in San Francisco; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Dan Grebler