The management team of Feishu, an office communications platform owned by TikTok parent company ByteDance, revealed at a recent internal meeting that the product’s domestic business operations in China will soon no longer be profitable, and its focus will shift to overseas markets like Japan, Southeast Asia, and Europe, Jiemian News reported on January 9.
Feishu launched its overseas version in April 2019, then officially released a domestic version five months later. The main advantage of Feishu is efficient collaboration, which integrates instant communication, calendars, audio and video conferencing, online documents, online storage space, multi-dimensional tables and other functions.
In the last two years, Feishu has continuously expanded its customers in the fields of internet services, games, new energy vehicles and catering in China, but its overall performance has not met expectations. According to insiders at Feishu, in 2021, it set a target of more than 10 million daily active users (DAU), but by the end of 2021, the DAU of Feishu was only about 5 million.
In contrast, Alibaba‘s DingTalk platform, which is also an office communications product, had 600 million users and attracted 23 million enterprises, as well as 15 million paid DAUs, as of September 30, 2022. Ye Jun, the president of DingTalk, said at the end of last year that the platform has a particularly high gross profit margin and will definitely make a profit in the next three to five years.
According to data from QuestMobile, a research institution, in September 2022, the number of MAUs on DingTalk, WeCom, and Feishu was 220 million, 110 million and 8.4 million respectively. According to data from Qianfan.tech, in October 2022, the number of MAUs on DingTalk, WeCom, VooV Meeting, and Feishu reached 160 million, 90 million, 80 million, and 1.19 million respectively.
One Feishu insider told Jiemian News that the platform missed its best opportunity to expand the domestic market during the early stages of the pandemic in 2020. At that time, a large number of employees worked at home and needed to use online meeting platforms. This opportunity was seized by DingTalk and WeCom.
Because Feishu was set up by ByteDance, its product and function design are more in line with the working characteristics of internet firms. The above-mentioned insider said that Feishu initially spent a lot of energy on product experience, but the choice of office software was decided by the boss, instead of ordinary users.
After the rise of DingTalk and WeCom, Feishu began to expand large-scale enterprise customers, such as China Resources, a Chinese state-owned conglomerate, and Sany, a Chinese multinational heavy equipment manufacturing company. The working mode and collaboration requirements of these enterprises are completely different from those of internet firms, and the Feishu team understands their various needs and customizes functions for them. This service mode requires a very large team, which increases its operating costs.
As of October this year, the size of Feishu’s team has exceeded 8,000 employees, while the size of DingTalk and WeCom is less than half of Feishu’s. At present, Feishu has become the hardest-hit area amid layoffs at ByteDance. From October to early December, the number of employees decreased by more than 1,000, and it is still continuously being reduced.