TikTok owner ByteDance is planning to launch an offshore public listing for short video app Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, which could value the company at roughly $400 billion in the private market, according to people with knowledge on the matter.
The prospect of a Hong Kong or New York initial public offering (IPO) stands to triple the company’s $140 billion valuation after its series C fundraising in March 2020, Reuters and South China Morning Post reported.
The Beijing-based start-up had also been exploring plans to list some of its Chinese businesses, including news aggregator Toutiao, in either Hong Kong or on Shanghai’s Nasdaq-style STAR market, according to Reuters. However, the expectations of a Shanghai IPO for ByteDance has diminished after the Chinese government abruptly halted Ant Group’s blockbuster IPO in November and has embarked on an attempt to tighten its grip on the country’s most powerful tech giants.
The company last week hired Shou Zi Chew, Xiaomi’s former president of international business, to fill the newly created chief financial officer position. The move sparked speculation about ByteDance’s intention to go public. Chew oversaw Xiaomi’s Hong Kong IPO in 2018 after a stint working at investment firm DST Global, where in 2013 he helped ByteDance complete its series B round of financing.
Chinese short video company Kuaishou, ByteDance’s rival in the domestic market, raised 41.28 billion Hong Kong dollars ($5.32 billion) from its debut in Hong Kong in February. Kuaishou has 300 million daily active users, while Douyin achieved a total of 600 million daily active users as of last August, according to data compiled by Statista. Kuaishou reported around 58.8 billion yuan ($9 billion) in revenue for 2020, which provides a benchmark for ByteDance’s valuation.
Founded in 2012 by billionaire entrepreneur Zhang Yiming, ByteDance has solidified its leading position among the country’s top internet companies with hit services including Toutiao, Douyin and TikTok. ByteDance previously rowed with the administration of former US President Donald Trump, which attempted to force the sale of TikTok to an American company due to alleged national security concerns. The Biden administration has paused Trump’s attempted TikTok ban and said it will reassess the situation, relieving pressure on the popular video-sharing app.