Chinese unicorn ByteDance beats expectations, books $7b H1 revenue

Photo: REUTERS

China’s ByteDance, owner of video-sharing app TikTok and one of the world’s most valuable unicorns, booked revenue of 50-60 billion yuan ($7 billion to $8.4 billion) in a better-than-expected result for the first half, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

ByteDance, which was loss-making in the first-half, also posted a profit in June and was confident of making a profit in the second half of the year, one of the people said, declining to be identified as the company has not made a public announcement.

Robust growth has led the Beijing-based startup to revise its revenue target for 2019 to 120 billion yuan from an earlier goal set late last year of 100 billion yuan, a second person said.

Earnings figures for last year were not immediately available. According to online tech news outlet The Information, ByteDance revenue for the whole of 2018 was $7.2 billion.

ByteDance declined to comment.

The seven-year-old startup, which separate sources have said was valued at $78 billion late last year, also owns Chinese news aggregator Jinri Toutiao, meaning “Today’s Headlines”, as well as a domestic version of TikTok, known as Douyin.

Most of the company’s revenue is garnered in China, the second person familiar with the matter said, adding that while Douyin generates advertising fees, TikTok is still in the early stages of making money.

Analysts have called ByteDance a strong threat to other Chinese tech industry firms including social media and gaming giant Tencent Holdings Ltd and search engine leader Baidu Inc. Globally, ByteDance’s apps have 1.5 billion monthly active users and 700 million daily active users, the company said in July.

Last month it launched a search engine that sits within Toutiao, putting it in direct competition with Baidu. It has also acquired a Chinese-language Wikipedia-like website called Baike.com to further boost content.

Aiming to expand in markets outside China, ByteDance recently launched work efficiency app Lark and is planning to launch a paid music-streaming app.

Its aggressive push into new areas has helped lift global headcount to around 50,000 currently, compared with 40,000 last year.

Reuters 

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.