Kevin Mayer, the high profile head of Disney’s streaming business, is set to join TikTok, the popular short-video app that has run into controversy in the United States because of concerns over national-security and privacy issues.
Mayer will not only head the app but will also be appointed as the chief operating officer of ByteDance, the Chinese parent company of TikTok. Making the announcement on Modnay, the company said that Mayer will be reporting directly to the company’s founder and CEO, Yiming Zhang.
Mayer was instrumental in the November launch of Disney Plus, Disney’s new video streaming channel, which has gained significant popularity already and has turned out to be a threat to existing companies in the highly competitive streaming-video business. Since its launch in November, Disney Plus has amassed 54.5 million subscribers.
Mayer is also credited with helping in the expansion of Disney through mergers which included the acquisition of 21st Century Fox’s TV and film business in 2019 that attracted global attention and changed the industry dynamics through the creation of one of the largest players in the global entertainment industry.
The younger generation’s fancy has been tapped into by TikTok’s app that features short videos and many of them have music and dancing. The app is also known for its goofy, light-hearted feel. The content in the app is complete “user-generated”, just like YouTube, and unlike the big-budget, professional movies and TV shows that Disney is known and famous for.
According to eMarketer analyst Debra Williamson, this move by TikTok to hire a US-based CEO from a major American media company could help the Chinese firm to deal with the US regulatory environment and the needed approach to privacy and data security.
“Having someone who’s familiar with that at the helm is certain to be helpful for them,” she said.
One of the factors, according to analysts, that have landed TokTok in trouble with US regulators over national-security concerns is the Chinese ownership of the company. While the acquisition of TikTok’s precursor Musical.ly by ByteDance is being investigated by a US national-security agency, the app has been banned from government-issued phones by US military branches.
In recent years, Chinese owned companies have faced the heat in the US with the government cracking the whip on them. Chinese telecom equipment manufacturing giant Huawei is one such firm. there is a firm fear in the US that Chinese companies possessing data of US citizens through their business will share the data with Chinese government agencies.
TikTok and Huawei have both denied this.
Williamson said that ByteDance’s other apps could be made popular by the company with the help of Mayer as he will also be function as the COO of TikTok’s parent company ByteDance.
“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,” Mayer said in a statement.
(Adapted from Dawn.com)