philip lelyveld The world of entertainment technology


Inside The Hunt For TikTok’s New CEO—And What’s Next For The World’s Hottest App

960x0-5In the first quarter, TikTok was downloaded 315 million times across Apple and Android phones, the most quarterly installs for an app ever, according to SensorTower, which monitors app downloads. And with the world stuck in lockdown usage has surged, with total downloads now reaching more than 2 billion. Even more menacing for its competitors: 40% of its users are between16 and 24, and addicted, spending nearly an hour on the app each day on average.

...“We’re pulling some of our best creatives and ‘some of our best talent and taking time that normally would be spent on YouTube and putting them on TikTok. It’s a massive, massive opportunity.”

The first calls went out three months ago after Mayer was bypassed for the coveted Disney prize of succeeding outgoing CEO Bob Iger in favor of former parks and experiences chief Bob Chapek. Zhang had been searching for the right candidate since October, someone with the right mix of digital savvy and leadership experience to manage TikTok’s growth across the U.S., Europe, India and Brazil.

Mayer clearly fit the bill as the executive credited with building Disney’s lone bright spot in a business crushed by the pandemic: Disney+, the wildly successful streaming service. He had the digital and strategic chops Zhang needed to get TikTok to the next level.

But his presence has guys like Pace–and other content providers like him–salivating. Whatever TikTok can’t create, Mayer will be poised to buy, a veteran of some of the company’s most prescient acquisitions, including Pixar, Lucasfilm, Marvel and its latest big gulp, Fox.

Zhang is looking to the Harvard Business School graduate for much more, naming him ByteDance’s chief operating officer as well, making him the billionaire's right hand in managing an ecosystem of apps that are widely popular in Asia, including Lark (a bit like Slack plus video conferencing) and Helo (a bit like Facebook).

“Essentially they hired him to be an American face of a Chinese company,” says Rohit Kulkarni, an MKM Partners analyst who covers internet companies. “And to be a bridge with advertisers.”

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