Last week, we were reporting on speculation that TikTok’s parent company ByteDance was being valued at more than $105bn in private trading of its shares. Now there’s some more information on how its business may have grown in 2019. It’s not official figures from the company, but rather a ‘people familiar with the matter’ briefing to news site Bloomberg.
The nitty-gritty is this: ByteDance’s revenues are claimed to have more than doubled from $7.4bn in 2018 to more than $17bn in 2019, helping the company to a net profit of more than $3bn last year compared to the (previously-reported, but again, not official figures) $1.2bn loss in 2018.
How does that $17bn compare to other big digital firms in the west? Spotify’s 2019 revenues were €6.76bn (around $7.41bn) for example, but the better comparison is to larger social-media companies. ByteDance is no Facebook ($69.66bn in 2019 revenues) but it’s well ahead of Twitter ($3.46bn) and Snapchat ($1.72bn), while it also seemingly made more money in 2019 than YouTube’s ad revenues that year ($15.15bn).
We’ll remind you at this point again that ByteDance is about more than just TikTok: its flagship news app Douyin is also a key part of its success. But there’s some separate news this week (again, external estimates not official figures) on TikTok’s financial performance.
Mobile analytics firm Sensor Tower reckons that TikTok was the highest grossing non-game app worldwide in April 2020 with more than $78m in user spending – “a 10x growth from April 2019”. It estimates that nearly 87% of that spending happened in China, followed by 8.2% in the US. Note, these estimates are simply for in-app purchases by TikTok users: they don’t cover advertising revenues.
(Why did we stress ‘non-game’ app? Because the top mobile games still make a lot more money from in-app purchases than anything else. Sensor Tower has stats for that too: the top two mobile games of April 2020 were PUBG Mobile ($225.2m of player spending) and Honor of Kings ($156m). They’re both published by Tencent, the Chinese tech giant that ByteDance is emerging as a key competitor to. No wonder ByteDance has its own ambitions in mobile gaming…)