BENGALURU: Chinese internet giant Bytedance has announced the closure of Tik Tok in India following a communication by the Indian government last week that it will retain the ban on nearly 59 Chinese apps over “threats to national security and sovereignty.”
Bytedance CEO Vanessa Pappas and VP Blake Chandlee informed employees on Wednesday that despite cutting down on expenses since June last year, the company is not in a position to remain fully staffed while the apps aren't operational. The company management said “it has been forced to reduce the staff size in India” on account of lack of clarity from the Indian government on when the apps will be reinstated.
Bytedance has more than 2000 employees in India. Although the Chinese tech firm didn’t specify the number of people that will be laid off, the interim mail shared with the employees suggested that the decision will impact a majority of its staff. However, the company will continue running its operations in India.
Bytedance said that post the ban on its flagship app Tik Tok on June 29, 2020, it has steadfastly complied with the directions of the Indian government.
“We continually strive to make our apps comply with local laws and regulations and do our best to address any concerns they have. It is therefore 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. It is deeply regretful that after supporting our 2000+ employees in India for more than half a year, we have no choice but to scale back the size of our workforce. look forward to receiving the opportunity to relaunch TikTok and support the hundreds of millions of users, artists, storytellers, educators and performers in India,” the company said in a statement.
Until last year, India was the largest market for short-video app Tik Tok with more than 300 million users. Tik Tok’s parent Bytedance had announced in 2019 that it plans to invest $1 billion in India over the next three years and ramp up hiring after an explosive growth in monthly downloads, even as the firm’s major revenues came from the US, UK and China.
The most valuable startup globally ($100 billion valuation), Bytedance counts Softbank, KKR and General Atlantic as its investors. Besides Tik Tok, Bytedance’s video and messaging platforms including Vigo and Helo have also been included in the 59 Chinese apps that were banned in India last year.