ByteDance investors value TikTok at $50 billion in takeover bid
Updated: Sep 1
NEW YORK/HONG KONG (Reuters) - Some investors of TikTok’s parent company ByteDance seeking to take over the popular social media app are valuing it at about $50 billion, significantly more than peers such as Snap Inc (SNAP.N), according to people familiar with the matter.
Beijing-based ByteDance is considering a range of options for TikTok amid pressure from the United States to relinquish control of the app, which allows users to create short videos with special effects and has become wildly popular with U.S. teenagers. The app’s success has helped turn ByteDance into one of only a handful of truly global Chinese conglomerates.
Privately held ByteDance has received a proposal from some of its investors, including Sequoia and General Atlantic, to transfer majority ownership of TikTok to them, the sources said. It has also fielded acquisition interest in TikTok from other companies and investment firms, the sources said.
The investors’ bid values TikTok at 50 times its projected 2020 revenue of about $1 billion, according to the sources. By comparison, Snap is valued at 15 times its projected 2020 revenue, at about $33 billion, according to data provider Refinitiv.
It is unclear whether ByteDance’s founder and CEO, Yiming Zhang, will be satisfied with the offer. ByteDance executives recently discussed valuation projections for TikTok that exceed $50 billion, one of the sources said.
TikTok is growing rapidly as it rakes in more cash from advertising, and its management team expects to achieve $6 billion in revenue in 2021, one of the sources said. ByteDance, which owns other apps including TikTok’s Chinese counterpart, Douyin, has set itself a revenue target for 2020 of about 200 billion yuan ($28 billion), Reuters has previously reported.
If a deal for the whole of TikTok cannot be reached, ByteDance is exploring divesting only TikTok’s U.S. operations, one of the sources said. It is not clear what such a deal would be worth and what ties TikTok in the United States would maintain with its global operations.
There is no certainty that ByteDance will agree to any deal, the sources said. It is pushing ahead with structural changes that will further ringfence the U.S. business of TikTok from its global empire, the sources added. These changes could include a new holding company for TikTok and an independent board, one of the sources said, cautioning that no decision has been made. The company has already separated TikTok operationally from its other apps through dedicated teams.
The sources requested anonymity because the deliberations are confidential.
ByteDance, General Atlantic and Sequoia declined to comment, while Cheetah Mobile and a CFIUS spokeswoman did not respond to requests for comment.
TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer said in a blog post on Wednesday that the company was committed to following U.S. laws, and was allowing experts to observe its moderation policies and examine the code that drives its algorithms.