TikTok val­ued at $50bn in run-up to po­ten­tial takeover

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Technology Intelligen­ce - By

Hasan Chowd­hury

IN­VESTORS at ByteDance, the Chi­nese owner of TikTok, have val­ued the con­tro­ver­sial app at $50bn (£38bn) ahead of a po­ten­tial takeover bid.

ByteDance has re­ceived in­ter­est from in­vestors in­clud­ing Se­quoia and Gen­eral At­lantic to take ma­jor­ity own­er­ship of the vi­ral video app, ac­cord­ing to Reuters.

The in­vestors’ bid val­ues TikTok at 50 times its es­ti­mated 2020 rev­enue and would make it one of the world’s most valu­able so­cial me­dia com­pa­nies. Ri­val Snap is cur­rently val­ued at $33bn – 15 times its pro­jected 2020 rev­enue.

TikTok, which was la­belled a “po­ten­tial coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence threat” by se­nior mem­bers of Congress and that the US is con­sid­er­ing ban­ning, has 800m users glob­ally.

The $110bn (£86bn) Beijing-head­quar­tered com­pany is be­lieved to be ex­plor­ing struc­tural changes to sep­a­rate the US busi­ness of TikTok from its global em­pire.

A for­mal split could in­su­late TikTok from wide­spread sus­pi­cion that it could be used as a tool of Chi­nese state sur­veil­lance, as well as al­le­ga­tions that it has en­forced Com­mu­nist Party cen­sor­ship on its Western users. TikTok de­nies both claims.

US Trea­sury sec­re­tary Steve Mnuchin said yes­ter­day that TikTok was un­der fed­eral gov­ern­ment re­view and a rec­om­men­da­tion will be made on a po­ten­tial ban.

Mark Zucker­berg, Face­book’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, has also openly crit­i­cised the com­pany, claim­ing in a speech at Ge­orge­town Univer­sity last year that TikTok cen­sored posts sup­port­ing prodemoc­racy protests in Hong Kong.

TikTok re­futed the sug­ges­tion at the time, say­ing in a state­ment that “the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment does not re­quire that TikTok cen­sor con­tent”.

Kevin Mayer, a former Dis­ney ex­ec­u­tive hired to lead TikTok, came out with a scathing at­tack against Face­book yes­ter­day, ac­cus­ing the firm of at­tempt­ing to dis­man­tle its US op­er­a­tions while at­tempt­ing to cre­ate a copy­cat app.

Face­book and Gen­eral At­lantic de­clined to com­ment. ByteDance and Se­quoia did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to re­quests for com­ment.

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