ByteDance, the same company that owns China-based short video service TikTok, has announced that it’s scaling down its India operations and has laid off a major part of its workforce in India. Also Read - Twitter considered buying ShareChat to place Moj app as TikTok's global rival: Report
TikTok enjoyed nearly 120 million users in India before it was banned by the Indian government and had also planned to invest $1 billion. But, the company has now announced that it has been forced to scale down its 2,000-strong workforce in the country. Also Read - TikTok's parent ByteDance plans to sell its Indian TikTok assets to Glance: Report
ByteDance wasn’t having the best of times in India. The decision to scale down its workforce came against the backdrop of TikTok being among the 59 Chinese apps that the Indian government decided to take down amid clashes with Chinese troops. TikTok was first banned temporarily along with other apps in June 2020. Also Read - Instagram says it will no longer promote recycled TikTok videos: Here's why
The government also banned other Chinese apps like WeChat, UC Browser and Xiaomi’s Mi Community. By November 2020, the government had banned over 200 Chinese apps.
ByteDance also discontinued its other apps like Vigo Video in India after TikTok was banned.
“It is deeply regretful that after supporting our 2,000+ employees in India for more than half a year, we have no choice but to scale back the size of our workforce,” a TikTok spokesperson said in a statement.
It is not clear as to how many employees the company has let go of, however, the TikTok spokesperson has said that it will disclose the numbers in the coming days.
“We have worked steadfastly to comply with the government of India orders issued on June 29, 2020. We continually strive to make our apps comply with local laws and regulations and do our best to address any concerns they have.”
TikTok in India
TikTok’s dismal run in India and its ongoing legal battle in the US hasn’t been a roadblock in its growth as the short-video making app TikTok became the highest-grossing app globally in 2020 with $540 million in profit.
According to the data by app analytics firm Apptopia, TikTok was the most downloaded app in 2020 with over 850 million downloads closely followed by WhatsApp at 600 million and Facebook at 540 million downloads worldwide.
“It is disappointing that in the ensuing seven months, despite our efforts we have not been given a clear direction on how and when our apps could be reinstated,” the TikTok spokesperson said.
Indian app made the most of the ban
The ban of Chinese video-making apps was a great window of opportunity for homegrown short-video making apps like Chingari, Josh, TakaTak among others that managed to capture more than 40 per cent market share.
The number of internet users in India set to grow to 970 million from the current 600 million in the next five years.
“Sad to hear, so many people had to get laid off because of this move of TikTok. We were expecting this from a long time since the govt imposed a ban on Chinese app. It’s unfortunate for the layoff. None of the companies or founder wishes so for his or her employee. We will hire some of the potential talents.”, said Aditya Kothari, Co-founder & chief strategist at Chingari.