Rumours continue about how TikTok plans to avoid a potential ban in the US by separating from its parent company ByteDance. Reuters claimed yesterday that some of the latter’s investors – including VC firms Sequoia and General Atlantic – looking to take over TikTok are valuing the company at $50bn.
“The investors’ bid values TikTok at 50 times its projected 2020 revenue of about $1 billion,” claimed Reuters, adding that TikTok’s management team expects those revenues to climb to $6bn in 2021. “If a deal for the whole of TikTok cannot be reached, ByteDance is exploring divesting only TikTok’s US operations,” claimed the piece.
Meanwhile, TikTok’s new CEO Kevin Mayer published a blog post yesterday timed to coincide with the US Congress antitrust hearing with Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. It was a big promise of transparency and accountability.
“We believe all companies should disclose their algorithms, moderation policies, and data flows to regulators,” he wrote, adding that TikTok is doing exactly that. “Experts can observe our moderation policies in real-time, as well as examine the actual code that drives our algorithms.”
He also threw some jabs in Facebook’s direction for its “copycat” Reels feature in Instagram “after their other copycat Lasso failed quickly”. He also alluded to “maligning attacks by our competitor – namely Facebook – disguised as patriotism and designed to put an end to our very presence in the US”. Oof.
“TikTok has become the latest target, but we are not the enemy. The bigger move is to use this moment to drive deeper conversations around algorithms, transparency, and content moderation, and to develop stricter rules of the road,” wrote Mayer. Yet TikTok may yet find itself a target in more countries: a report yesterday from Japan suggested that lawmakers there want the government to “take legislative steps to limit the use of video-sharing app TikTok and others offered by Chinese firms”.