ByteDance Ltd.'s valuation has risen at least a third to more than $ 100 billion in recent private share transactions, reflecting expectations that the owner of the video phenom TikTok will continue to pull in advertisers despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
Stock in the world’s most valuable startup has changed hands recently at a price that suggests its value has risen more than 33% from about $ 75 billion during a major round of funding two years ago. They asked not to reveal their identity because the problem is not general. Some of those transactions valued the Chinese company at as much as $140 billion. The trades are private transactions and may not fully reflect the broader expectations of investors.
ByteDance has become a powerful online force in recent years, propelled in part by a short TikTok video platform that’s taken U.S. teenagers by storm. Investors are looking to get a slice of a company that draws some 1.5 billion monthly active users to a family of apps that includes Douyin, the Chinese twin of TikTok, as well as the Toutiao news service. This is despite the fact that American lawmakers raise concerns about privacy and censorship about its operation. This week, it poached Walt Disney Co. streaming czar Kevin Mayer to become chief executive officer of TikTok.
The company was in the early stages of exploring a share sale abroad last year. But people added that any float remains a long-term goal given ByteDance remains well funded. ByteDance declined to comment on Wednesday.
Its most recent market valuation puts Chinese startups in the ballpark of industry stalwarts like HSBC Holdings Plc or International Business Machines Corp. ByteDance, whose TikTok is still the favorite choice for half a billion lip-syncing, dancing music video aficionados -- is now going head-to-head with Chinese internet leaders from Tencent Holdings Ltd. to Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. for user traffic and marketing dollars.
It also strengthens its operations in newer areas such as e-commerce and games. ByteDance has started a recruitment wave this year planning to get 40,000 new jobs by 2020, hoping to match Alibaba’s headcount at a time when technology companies around the world are furloughing or reducing staff.
In the long run, the company will have to deal with the increased scrutiny from Washington. Two prominent senators have urged for an investigation into TikTok, labeling it a national security threat.
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