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36Kr/KrASIA

TikTok creator ByteDance hits $425bn valuation on gray market

Recent management changes hint at huge IPO in near future

ByteDance had a banner year in 2020, more than doubling its revenue to $34.3 billion, according to U.S. media.   © Getty Images

BEIJING -- The valuation of ByteDance has hit $425 billion for new private equity investors, according to Chinese technology news portal 36Kr.

Information published by 36Kr shows three listings of stakes for sale in ByteDance. The new high in ByteDance's valuation was revealed by one investor whose shares are estimated at between $50 million and $100 million.

ByteDance had a banner year in 2020 and more than doubled revenue to $34.3 billion, according to U.S. business news media CNBC. It posted $2.1 billion in operating losses and logged 1.9 billion users across its vast array of services, which include TikTok and Chinese twin Douyin, news aggregator Toutiao, video editor CapCu and enterprise services like Volcano Engine. The company also has businesses in education technology and video games.

36Kr also listed a valuation of between $400 billion and $388.8 billion for the company.

A Series C fundraising by ByteDance in March 2020 sent its valuation $140 billion, rising to $180 billion by December 2020, according to two people who spoke to Reuters. In April, valuation reached $400 billion, the South China Morning Post reported.

The company's ballooning value reflects its status as one of the few Chinese tech companies to find success beyond the Great Firewall. It managed to survive the hostile administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, which accused ByteDance of being a threat to national security and ordered the company to divest its business in the US.

Trump's policy was overturned in June by the administration of President Joe Biden, which said the US government will "evaluate these threats through rigorous, evidence-based analysis."

But in India, where TikTok was banned a year ago, ByteDance remains in limbo.

Meanwhile, ByteDance is shaking things up at the top. Zhang Yiming, who has been the face of the company since its formation in 2012, will step down as CEO and be succeeded by co-founder Liang Rubo. In Singapore, Chief Financial Officer Shouzi Chew was named TikTok's new CEO.

Both these developments point to a huge initial public offering in ByteDance's near future, with leadership changes taking place well before the company goes public.

KrASIA is a digital media platform focused on technology-driven businesses and trends across the Asia-Pacific region. KrASIA belongs to 36Kr Global, of which 36Kr is a minority investor. Nikkei has a minority stake in 36Kr.

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