ByteDance Technology, developer of mobile video platform TikTok, has mined another high-profile hire, this time poaching from the prestigious Disney ranks.
The company has named Kevin Mayer, Disney’s direct-to-consumer chairman, as chief operating officer (COO) of ByteDance, CGTN.com reported.
According to the announcement, Mayer will lead music, gaming, one of India’s leading social media platforms Helo and emerging businesses, and will serve as CEO of TikTok, leading the rapidly growing platform as it continues to build its global community of creators, users and brands, the report said.
The appointment will be effective from June 1.
TikTok, available in 39 languages, allows users worldwide to create short videos powered by music. It has gone viral since its launch in 2017 and is surging in popularity as a number of people in many countries are confined to their residences due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the report said.
As reported by app data firm Sensor Tower, as of April 29, the app has been downloaded over two billion times worldwide, with about 800 million monthly active users, which has made TikTok by far the biggest digital success for a Chinese-owned company in the world.
ByteDance has made several high-profile executive hires in recent months, the report said. In January, it appointed former Microsoft intellectual property chief Erich Andersen as global general counsel, after Vanessa Pappas, a veteran YouTube executive, was hired to run its US operations last year.
Mayer, 58, was lauded at Disney for leading the game-changing acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm and Twentieth Century Fox – the successful launch of the Disney+ streaming service in November. Under his leadership, Disney+ signed up more than 50 million subscribers in five months, the report said.
But in February, he was passed over as Disney’s new chief executive, which ended up going to Bob Chapek.
TikTok uses sophisticated artificial intelligence to make video recommendations based on users’ behavior on the app. However, the company has drawn concerns in Washington about its handling of personal data, the report said.
In November, the US government launched a national security review of ByteDance’s merger with social media app Musical.ly, which made TikTok available in the US in 2018.
Several US government agencies, including nearly all branches of the military, have strongly discouraged employees from downloading or using the app, the report said.
Given the growing scrutiny, TikTok has stepped up transparency efforts, by launching a content moderation center at its Los Angeles office where external experts will oversee its operations.