TikTok’s parent company ByteDance announced on Monday that The Walt Disney Company’s former top streaming executive, Kevin Mayer, would take on the role of chief operating officer and chief executive officer of TikTok.
But analysts say that poaching an executive from an iconic American company likely won’t be enough to reassure Washington, especially as the coronavirus pandemic revives long-simmering US-China tensions.
Rather than quell concerns that the app could aid Chinese spies, the news this week that Mayer will become the CEO of TikTok — owned by Beijing-based startup Bytedance — instead sparked a fresh round of calls for even tougher scrutiny.
TikTok “previously told me they couldn’t attend hearings and testify because executives were located in #China,” Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri tweeted. “But this new executive lives in the USA. I look forward to hearing from him. Under oath.”
TikTok platform is used to create short dance, lip-sync, comedy, and talent videos. The platform has millions of users from across the globe. The TikTok app has been downloaded more than 2 billion times across iOS and Android since it was launched globally in the year 2017. The app allows users to create videos up to 15-seconds long with music in the background.
The COVID-19 pandemic has helped boost its popularity further with thousands of users making comical or musical videos of their experiences during the quarantine period.
The TikTok platform has witnessed an explosion of growth since its launch in the United States. However, this increased popularity has led to scrutiny by the United States government over its ties with China.
Kevin Mayer will be responsible for ByteDance‘s “global development” including emerging business, gaming as well as music. “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 stated. He will be the first CEO of TikTok and will join ByteDance on 1 June.
TikTok having a Chinese parent company has worried many US politicians. Many of them have raised concerns about ByteDance allowing the Chinese government censorship or data collection on TikTok users. However, ByteDance denies both the charges.
In Disney, Kevin Mayer was responsible for overseeing the successful launch of the streaming service of the platform, Disney Plus in November of the year 2019.
The Disney streaming service had earned more than 54 million subscribers by May 2020. Mayer also managed the firm’s other streaming investments including Hulu, Hotstar, and sports streaming services ESPN plus. He was also considered a key figure in the company’s acquisitions of Lucasfilm, Pixar, and Marvel.