Kevin Mayer, the head of Disney’s streaming services and a Disney veteran for 27 years, is the new CEO of TikTok, a video-sharing platform owned by ByteDance.
Mayer is scheduled to take office on June 1 in TikTok’s new L.A. office in Culver City. He will also take the position of Chief Operating Officer for ByteDance, all at the same time taking charge of all of TikTok’s operation and ByteDance’s gaming and music-related businesses.
Since the news of its new Los Angeles headquarters surfaced last January, ByteDance has been actively searching for a CEO that will maneuver its viral app in the U.S.
Accordingly, ByteDance’s move in naming Mayer as its new CEO emphasizes the company’s separation from China and to curb growing concerns over user censorship and national security scrutiny raised by U.S. politicians and security officials.
Transfer of Roles
As soon as Mayer takes office on June 1, he’ll be responsible for the daily operations of the viral app. Mayer will be reporting directly to Zhang Yiming, who is the founder and CEO of ByteDance.
Alex Zhu, the former president of TikTok, will become ByteDance’s vice president of product and strategy. Meanwhile, Vanessa Pappas will continue to oversee TikTok’s U.S. operations.
Since its launch in 2016, TikTok has seen meteoric growth worldwide and has rivaled to widely successful companies like Facebook, Youtube, Netflix, and more.
In 2019, the viral social media app surpassed 1.5 billion downloads across the App Store and Google Play — outperforming giants like Facebook and Instagram. On the other hand, Hootsuite’s Digital 2020 report revealed that the viral app raked in 800 million active users, an increase of 300 million from January 2019 data.
TikTok’s success can be attributed to its appeal to the younger generation and the expressive freedom of the app that encourages users to share their passion through short-form videos. ByteDance, China’s version of Facebook, also plays a massive role in the zooming success of the app.
Currently, the app reaches 2 billion all-time downloads amidst the coronavirus pandemic — a feat never been done by any app in a single quarter.
More Signs for an IPO?
TikTok, with its owner ByteDance, is one of the most sought-after IPO this 2020 with a valuation of $75 billion. However, skepticism looms over the company’s possibilities to go public due to political pressures and inadequate growth strategy.
The on-going trade war tension plays a big factor in TikTok’s IPO decision — resulting in the rise of user censorship and national security concerns. ByteDance, however, countered the allegations explaining all their “data centers are located entirely outside of China, and none of [its] data is subject to Chinese law.”
In the subject of its growth strategy, reports surfaced that TikTok’s valuation is no longer a healthy investment among investors. In a leaked audio statement, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that TikTok is “spending a huge amount of money promoting [the app].” And once advertising stopped, “retention is actually not that strong.”
With Mayer joining the pack and his track record in taking Disney+ to its current success, an IPO is still on the horizon. “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 via TechCrunch.