Kevin Mayer, the head of direct-to-consumer and international for Walt Disney, is leaving the company to become CEO of giant TikTok. He had been considered a leading contender to succeed Bob Iger as chief executive of Disney but was passed over in favor of Bob Chapek, the former head of parks and resorts.
Mayer will also become chief operating officer of TikTok parent, giant Chinese tech group ByteDance. Both are newly created roles. He starts June 1 as the wildly popular mobile video platform contines to make major inroads in the U.S. among homebound videophiles. He will report to ByteDance founder-CEO Yiming Zhang and is charged with driving the global development of ByteDance, as well as overseeing corporate development, sales, marketing, public affairs, security, and legal. He will lead music, gaming and emerging businesses and oversee TikTok’s global expansion.
“Kevin’s wealth of experience building successful global businesses makes him an outstanding fit for our mission of inspiring creativity for users globally. As one of the world’s most accomplished entertainment executives, Kevin is incredibly well placed to take ByteDance’s portfolio of products to the next level. I look forward to working very closely with Kevin on our global development and the next chapter of the ByteDance story,” said Yiming in a statement.
Disney said that Rebecca Campbell will replace Mayer, reporing to Chapek. The 23-year Disney veteran has held leadership roles across the company’s media, international and parks businesses.
As chairman, Direct-to-Consumer and International, Campbell will oversee streaming businesses globally, including Disney+ — which this month reached 54.5 million paid subscribers less than six months after its launch — as well as ESPN+, Hulu and Hotstar. Campbell’s portfolio also includes the company’s international businesses, including Disney’s International Channels, Fox Networks International and Star India. ,
Campbell was a member of the Direct-to-Consumer and International leadership team as President, The Walt Disney Company — Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), where she oversaw the Disney+ launch strategy and direct-to-consumer roadmap for the region.
“As we look to grow our direct-to-consumer business and continue to expand into new markets, I can think of no one better suited to lead this effort than Rebecca,” Chapek said. “She is an exceptionally talented and dedicated leader with a wealth of experience in media, operations and international businesses. She played a critical role in the launch of Disney+ globally while overseeing the EMEA region, and her strong business acumen and creative vision will be invaluable in taking our successful and well-established streaming services into the future.”
Disney also announced that Josh D’Amaro — president of Walt Disney World Resort — has been named Chairman, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, replacing Chapek.
Saluting Mayer, Chapek said the executive, “has had an extraordinary impact on our company [and] … done a masterful job of overseeing and growing our portfolio of streaming services, while bringing together the creative and technological assets required to launch the hugely successful Disney+ globally. Having worked alongside Kevin for many years on the senior management team, I am enormously grateful to him for his support and friendship and wish him tremendous success going forward.”
“I am very proud of what our extraordinarily talented Direct-to-Consumer and International team has accomplished in creating and delivering a world-class portfolio of streaming services, particularly Disney+,” said Mayer. “Rebecca was a critical member of the DTCI team from its inception, and I am certain the business is in great hands and will continue to expand and thrive under her expert leadership. It’s truly been a privilege for me to be part of the iconic Walt Disney Company, and I am enormously grateful to Bob Iger for his trust and confidence, and to Bob Chapek and his senior management team for their collaboration and support over the years, he added.
Disney has a tradition of promoting from within – and seeing one-time, seeming front runners exit. In 2016, COO Tom Staggs, who had been viewed as Iger’s mostly likely replacement, left the company abruptly. His previous promotion to chief operating officer put him in front of another possible candidate, Jay Rasulo, who also departed.