Chinese TikTok owner ByteDance doubled revenue in 2020: report

Chinese TikTok owner ByteDance doubled revenue in 2020: report

ByteDance, the Chinese parent company of TikTok, reportedly more than doubled its revenue last year to a whopping $34.3 billion, according to a report.

In a memo to employees that shared the privately held company’s financial highlights of 2020, ByteDance said its total revenue grew 111 percent from a year ago, while its gross profit rose 93 percent to $19 billion, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The memo also said ByteDance had about 1.9 billion monthly active users across all of its platforms as of the end of 2020, according to the report.

In addition to TikTok, the company also owns Chinese version Douyin, and news aggregation app Toutiao, among others.

Still, despite the huge spike in revenue, the Beijing-based firm told staffers that it incurred a $2.1 billion operating loss in 2020, the Journal reported — partly due to higher expenses incurred from worker compensation.

Douyin in Beijing
ByteDance also owns Chinese version Douyin, in addition to TikTok.
AP

ByteDance had reported an operating profit of $684 million in 2019, according to the Journal.

The company reported a net loss for 2020 of $45 billion, largely due to an accounting adjustment the company made for an increase in the fair value of its convertible redeemable preferred shares, the Journal said.

Such accounting charges are common for startups as their valuations rise, the report said.

But the rapid growth of the company shows why investors are so excited about ByteDance, which is not traded publicly and has reportedly been valued privately at well over $100 billion.

For years, reports have said that ByteDance is eying an IPO, but it’s hit a number of roadblocks. The Journal reported that it’s now considering listing in Hong Kong or New York.

Last year, ByteDance was caught in the crossfire of US-China relations, as President Donald Trump dubbed the company a national security threat. Trump ordered ByteDance to divest TikTok, spurring a frenzy among US companies to create a partnership.

But the Journal and other outlets reported earlier this year that a deal to sell TiKTok has been shelved indefinitely.

In China, the company is also caught in a broader wave of regulatory scrutiny of the country’s tech sector. China’s Cyberspace Administration has called out Douyin and over 100 other apps in China for the illegal collection of personal data.

And the company is gearing up for a major leadership change later this year. Zhang Yiming, the co-founder of ByteDance, will step down as CEO, he announced last month. Zhang’s fellow co-founder, Liang Rubo, will take over as CEO.

Zhang Yiming, founder and CEO of Bytedance
Zhang Yiming, founder and CEO of Bytedance, will steo down later this year.
Visual China Group via Getty Images

“The truth is, I lack some of the skills that make an ideal manager. I’m more interested in analyzing organizational and market principles, and leveraging these theories to further reduce management work, rather than actually managing people,” Zhang, who has helped grow the company into one of the largest startups in the world, said in an open letter announcing his decision.

“Similarly, I’m not very social, preferring solitary activities like being online, reading, listening to music and daydreaming about what may be possible.”