- Valuation of TikTok’s owner ByteDance in recent private share transactions has risen by at least one-third to more than $100 billion
Valuation of TikTok’s owner ByteDance in recent private share transactions has risen by at least one-third to more than $100 billion, people familiar with the matter said, reflecting expectations that video phenom owner TikTok will keep pulling in advertisers despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
Stock in the world’s most valuable startup has recently changed hands at a price that suggests its value has risen more than 33 percent from around $75 billion in a major funding round two years ago, people said, asking not to be named because the issue is not public. Any of those transactions, one person said, priced the Chinese business at as much as $140 billion.
Trades are private transactions and do not fully represent the interests of larger investors.
In recent years, ByteDance has developed into a strong online force, powered in part by a short TikTok video platform that has stormed U.S. teenagers. Investors are keen to catch a slice of a business that attracts around 1.5 billion active monthly users to a family of apps that includes Douyin, the Chinese twin of TikTok, as well as Toutiao news service. That’s despite American lawmakers raising concerns about its operation over privacy and censorship. It poached Walt Disney Co. this week for streaming czar Kevin Mayer to become TikTok’s chief executive.
Last year, familiar people have said, the company was in the very early stages of exploring a share sale abroad. But, the people added, any float remains a longer-term objective given that ByteDance remains well-funded. ByteDance refused Wednesday to comment. It has funding from SoftBank Group Corp., General Atlantic, and Sequoia.
Its latest market valuation places the Chinese startup in the industrial stalwarts ballpark such as HSBC Holdings Plc or International Business Machines Corp.
ByteDance — whose TikTok remains the place of choice for half a billion lip-syncing, dancing music video aficionados — is now head-to-head for app traffic and marketing dollars with the Chinese Internet leaders from Tencent Holdings Ltd. to Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.
It also reinforces its operations in newer arenas like e-commerce and gaming. Last year, ByteDance kicked off a wave of recruiting it expects to reach 40,000 new employees by 2020, aiming to equal Alibaba’s headcount at a time when technology companies across the globe are furloughing or raising workers.
The company will have to contend with rising scrutiny from Washington over the longer term. Two influential senators have called for inquiries into TikTok, describing it as a threat to national security.