TikTok owner ByteDance is expected to boost its 2021 gross revenue by 60 per cent to 400 billion yuan (US$63 billion), according to a report by The Information on Tuesday.
The growth in gross revenue – total sales before payouts to ad agencies are deducted – is slower than last year when the figure more than doubled to about 250 billion yuan, the report said.
Most of the sales came from its domestic apps Douyin, TikTok’s Chinese version, and news aggregator Jinri Toutiao, even though TikTok – the first international hit by a Chinese internet firm – announced it had 1 billion monthly active users in September.
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The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment on revenue data and its profitability.
Last year, ByteDance’s revenue more than doubled to US$34.3 billion but the company made an operating loss of US$2.1 billion, against a US$684 million operating profit in 2019.
The internet industry in China has seen fast-paced expansion for many years before coming under intense regulatory scrutiny this year, from antitrust to data security.
China’s sweeping Personal Information Protection Law, which took effect this month, grants users the right to turn off an app’s smart recommendation feature, a key to the popularity of TikTok and other ByteDance apps that customise user feeds based on their interests and other personal metrics.
The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), the country’s top cybersecurity authority, has issued two recent draft regulations that require data security reviews before any large online platforms can seek initial public offerings offshore, including in Hong Kong.
ByteDance may not go public for another year or more given the recent regulatory crackdown on the domestic internet sector, The Information said in the Tuesday report, citing company investors.
That is in line with a South China Morning Post report last month that said the company may postpone its IPO until late 2022.
In May, ByteDance founder Zhang Yiming announced that he would step down as the chief executive. Zhang later also resigned from the board of directors. He handed both the CEO and chairman positions over to long-time collaborator Liang Rubo.
Although the company’s revenue growth rate has slowed, the pace is still faster than its peers amid the regulatory environment.
Hong Kong-listed Kuaishou, ByteDance’s biggest rival in short video, saw its revenue grow 42 per cent to 36.2 billion yuan in the first half of 2021, with a loss of 64.8 billion yuan, while social media and entertainment giant Tencent Holdings reported a revenue growth of 19 per cent in the first nine months.
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