Walt Disney Co’s top streaming executive, Kevin Mayer, will leave the entertainment and theme parks giant to become the chief executive officer of TikTok, the popular video app owned by China’s ByteDance Technology Co, the companies said on May 18.
Mayer led the successful launch of the Disney+ streaming service in November but in February was passed over as Disney’s new chief executive.
Mayer’s appointment will be effective June 1, when he will also become chief operating officer of ByteDance, the Chinese company said.
TikTok, which allows users to create short videos with special effects, has become wildly popular with US teenagers doing viral challenges that pair dances with music clips from the app’s library. TikTok has hinted at ambitions to build a music streaming business, announcing in January that it was partnering with Britain-based music rights agency Merlin to expand its musical selections.
ByteDance’s Chinese ownership, however, has sparked concerns in Washington about TikTok’s handling of personal data. The company uses sophisticated artificial intelligence to make video recommendations based on users’ behaviour on the app.
In November, the US government launched a national security review of ByteDance’s US$1bil (RM4.36bil) acquisition of social media app Musical.ly, which became TikTok. Two senators introduced a bill to ban federal employees from using TikTok on government-issued phones.