Disney Streaming Boss Kevin Mayer to Become TikTok CEO

He will be replaced by Rebecca Campbell as head of Direct-to-Consumer and International

Kevin Mayer
Kevin Mayer during the Disney+ showcase at Disney’s D23 EXPO 2019 (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images)

Kevin Mayer will depart as Disney’s Direct-to-Consumer chairman to take over as CEO of TikTok.

Longtime Disney executive Rebecca Campbell will be the new chairman of Disney’s Direct-to-Consumer and International.

Mayer, who steered the launch of Disney+ last November, departs Disney less than three months after being passed up as Bob Iger’s successor as Disney CEO, which ended up going to Bob Chapek. Mayer will also be chief operating officer of ByteDance, TikTok’s China-based parent company.

Mayer was lauded at Disney for leading the game-changing acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm and Twentieth Century Fox but feared for his unrelenting management style. According to a dozen former Mayer colleagues and subordinates, that style sparked concerns about his leadership and, as one ex-Disney executive put it, “a sense of dread” about the media giant’s future should he assume even more responsibility.

“Kevin has had an extraordinary impact on our company over the years, most recently as head of our direct-to-consumer business,” said Chapek. “He has 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.”

Campbell moves over to Disney’s Direct-to-Consumer and International division from the company’s Parks business, where she was most recently President of Disneyland Resort. Prior to becoming president of Disneyland Resort last year, Campbell was president of Disney’s EMEA operations, and oversaw the Disney+ launch strategy and direct-to-consumer roadmap for the region. From 2010 through 2017, Campbell served as president of the ABC Owned Television Stations.

“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,” said Chapek. “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.”

Mr. Mayer said: “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+. 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.”

Disney+ launched in November and has already amassed more than 50 million subscribers, putting the company on track to reach its subscription goal four years ahead of schedule. Mayer, along with Disney TV executive Peter Rice, had been seen as the key competition with Chapek to success Iger atop the Magic Kingdom. Chapek was named CEO, with Iger shifting over to executive chairman, in February.

Additionally, Disney named Josh D’Amaro to fill Chapek’s old gig as chairman of Disney Parks, experiences, products and resorts.