Tiktok is announcing a major executive reshuffle today. The Chinese short form social media platform has onboarded Disney’s Kevin Mayer as its new CEO. Mayer earlier served as the Chairman of Walt Disney Company’s entire direct-to-consumer brand line-up. He was promoted to that position a couple of years ago.
Kevin Mayer will join TikTok parent Bytedance in dual roles. Apart from heading TikTok as its CEO, Mayer would also be assuming the responsibilities of Chief Operating Officer for the entire of Bytedance. He will report directly to ByteDance Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Yiming Zhang.
Highlighting Mayer’s role going forward, Bytedance says the he will be “charged with driving the global development of ByteDance, as well as overseeing corporate functions including corporate development, sales, marketing, public affairs, security, moderation, and legal.”
Mayer is a proven executive, specially in the direct to consumer streaming domain. He has been responsible for driving Disney+ since inception, culminating into a record-breaking launch last year. Additionally, Kevin led the company’s other direct-to-consumer businesses, including Hulu, ESPN+, and Hotstar, as well as overseeing Disney’s international operations, global ad sales, and global content sales.
In a prepared statement, Mayer said, “Like everyone else, I’ve been impressed watching the company build something incredibly rare in TikTok – a creative, positive online global community – and I’m excited to help lead the next phase of ByteDance’s journey as the company continues to expand its breadth of products across every region of the world.”
Alex Zhu, the current President of TikTok, will transition to ByteDance VP of Product & Strategy, where he will focus on his primary passion overseeing strategy and product design.
Kevin Mayer’s appointment comes at a crucial time for Bytedance, specially in context of TikTok. The platform recently zoomed its way past the 2 billion downloads mark across all app stores. At the same time though, Tiktok has been under immense scrutiny, almost right from the very beginning. The platform has been the centre of multiple security concerns in the US, so much so that the country’s Navy banned its usage altogether. There have been issues in the UK, specially concerning the use of the platform by kids.
Elsewhere in India, which is TikTok’s largest userbase now, the platform recently came under public ire when objectionable content started getting approved, raising questions on the platform’s content filtering technology. More recently, a video that made fun of acid-attack victims has resulted in TikTok plummeting to an overall Google Play Store rating of less than 2, as a massive movement to ban the app has gained momentum across India. People have relentlessly gone to play store to downgrade the app, resulting in a rating loss from 4+ to less than 2 in under two weeks.