Kevin Mayer went from Disney’s king of streaming to fighting for TikTok’s lifeAugust 1, 2020
But Mayer and TikTok don’t seem to be getting their fairy tale ending.
“It’s been one of the wildest years for a Hollywood executive I’ve seen in a long time. It couldn’t have been more dramatic if Disney’s studios wrote it,” Jeffrey Cole, director of USC’s Annenberg Center for the Digital Future, told CNN Business. “In a few months, he went from launching one of the most important streaming services in a long time and looking like the most likely heir to [former CEO] Bob Iger at Disney to a guy fighting to keep his company alive from the President of the United States.”
Mayer was Disney’s king of streaming, holding one of the most enviable jobs in Hollywood. As the company’s chairman of its direct-to-consumer unit, he was instrumental in shifting Disney’s business focus from films, TV and parks to the growing yet competitive world of streaming.
And then, seemingly just like that, Mayer stepped away. In doing so, however, he gained a title he was passed over for at Disney: CEO.
Beyond the title bump, it also made sense for Mayer to make the jump because TikTok is extremely popular — and growing.
For TikTok, an app owned by a company based in China, Mayer was a perfect fit.
Bringing Mayer aboard was a way to give TikTok a face that could address concerned US lawmakers who felt that the app posed a national security threat. And in the months since his hiring, TikTok has repeatedly defended itself against critics by playing up the fact that it has an “American CEO.”