(Reuters) – Walt Disney’s top streaming executive, Kevin Mayer, will leave the amusement and entertainment giant to become chief executive officer of TikTok, a popular video application owned by Chinese ByteDance, the company said on Monday. Mayer is leading the successful launch of the Disney + streaming service in November but in February was passed as Disney’s new chief executive. Mayer’s appointment will take effect on June 1, when he will also become ByteDance’s chief operating officer, the Chinese company said.
TikTok, which allows users to make short videos with special effects, has become very popular among U.S. teenagers. which carries out a viral challenge that pairs dance with music clips from the application library. TikTok has signaled ambitions to build a music streaming business, announcing in January that they are partnering with a music copyright agency based in Merlin to expand its music choices. ByteDance’s ownership in China, however, has sparked concerns in Washington about handling TikTok’s personal data. The company uses sophisticated artificial intelligence to make video recommendations based on user behavior in the application.
In November, the US government launched a national security review of the $ 1 billion acquisition of ByteDance from the social media application Musical.ly, which became TikTok. Two senators introduced laws to ban federal employees from using TikTok on government-issued telephones. One of the senators, Republican member Josh Hawley, said TikTok had previously told him that his executives could not testify before Congress because they were located in China. “But this new executive lives in the US,” Hawley wrote on Twitter on Monday. “I’m looking forward to hearing from him. Under oath. “
To allay fears, ByteDance has stepped up efforts to separate TikTok from many Chinese businesses and has conducted several high-level executive recruits in recent months. He appointed former head of Microsoft intellectual property Erich Andersen as global general counsel in January, after hiring Vanessa Pappas, a YouTube veteran executive, to carry out his US operations last year.
Speculation about Mayer’s future began to revolve in February after Disney appointed Robert Chapek as chief executive officer. Mayer, who has a “hard and strong” style, according to former Disney executives, is seen as a dealmaker who has just been assigned to a large profit and loss division. His lack of operational experience was the main reason he didn’t get the top position, said the former executive. A ByteDance spokesman said the company “had no objections” about Mayer’s operational experience. “Any company in our sector will be happy to have it.”
Under Mayer’s leadership, Disney + gathered more than 50 million customers in five months. Disney named Rebecca Campbell, a company veteran for 23 years, to replace Mayer as head of direct divisions to consumers and internationally, which includes a streaming media unit that Disney has relied on to drive growth in the future.
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