ByteDance, parent company of content aggregator Jinri Toutiao and short video platform Douyin (known as Tik Tok internationally), is rumored to have closed a pre-IPO funding round valuing the company at $75 billion, reports local media.
ByteDance reportedly began financing negotiations in August. In late-September, reports began circulating claiming that the company was in talks with Softbank Group, New York-based KKR & Co., and private equity firm General Atlantic to raise $3 billion. At the time, Softbank was said to be leading the investment. However, sources now say that the amount of financing is not clear.
ByteDance is reportedly seeking a Hong Kong listing next year. In July, local media alleged that the company was pursuing a valuation of $45 billion. However, ByteDance has not publically confirmed the plans. In July, it said that it had no intentions and made no arrangments to go public.
The company has been embroiled numerous legal spats with Tencent and Baidu this year. In June, ByteDance filed an RMB 10 million lawsuit against Baidu for unfair competition. Before this, the company also took Tencent to court for blocking its content on Tencent’s WeChat and other platforms owned by the company. The move came after Tencent filed an RMB 1 lawsuit against Bytedance for damaging its reputation on the company’s Toutiao and Douyin platforms. Although Douyin wasn’t the only platform Tencent barred from its messaging apps, videos from Douyin, and others, still couldn’t be shared within WeChat after the ban was lifted.
ByteDance has also faced mounting crackdowns amidst a drive by regulators to remove “inappropriate” content from internet platforms. In April, Jinri Toutiao was ordered to better manage its content. Shortly after, news aggregation platform Jinri Toutiao had its app removed from numerous app stores in the country along apps made by local media companies Phoenix News, and NetEase News.
Toutiao was again targeted after it was ordered to permanently close its Neihan Duanzi joke app for its vulgar content. However, ByteDance later launched a Neihan Duanzi clone in August. Dubbed Pipixia, the company said the app had been repositioned regarding product design, content, and target users.
Despite the troubles at home, the company has an international focus. Tik Tok was the most downloaded non-game app in the Apple App Store globally in the first quarter of 2018. ByteDance merged its karaoke app Musical.ly with Tik Tok to form a global Tik Tok brand in August as part of its global strategy. Tik Tok had proved to be popular in Southeast and East Asia while Musical.ly was widely used among American teenagers.