ByteDance joins the list of Big Tech companies laying off staff as it faces political and regulatory pressures in the US and China.
ByteDance, the Beijing-based owner of the popular short video-sharing app TikTok, had cut hundreds of jobs across multiple departments in China to save costs, the South China Morning Post has reported.
The job cuts were implemented at the end of 2022 at Douyin, a local Chinese version of TikTok that has 600 million daily users, as well as its gaming and real estate operations, the SCMP said, citing sources.
The layoffs come as part of the company’s efforts to streamline operations but represent only a small portion of its workforce, according to the SCMP. ByteDance is one of the largest employers in China’s tech sector and has over 100,000 employees worldwide.
ByteDance has declined a request from Cybernews for comment.
Other Chinese tech giants, including Alibaba and Tencent, laid off thousands of employees in 2022, as did their American counterparts at Meta, where 13% of its workforce was fired, and Amazon, which said it would let 10,000 employees go.
According to Layoffs.fyi, a website that tracks job cuts across the tech industry, more than 153,000 people worldwide were fired in the sector in 2022.
ByteDance, however, faces unique challenges as political pressure over TikTok operations in the US is mounting. Last week, TikTok was banned on all federal devices, following similar bans in the House of Representatives and 19 states.
The White House is also toying with the idea of forcing ByteDance to sell TikTok, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal. A security deal with the Biden administration that would allow TikTok to continue operating in the US was reportedly delayed. Some officials fear the app will remain a security risk as long as a Chinese company owns it.
Beijing could block the forced sale, which means TikTok could face an outright ban in the US. TikTok has repeatedly dismissed claims about its surveillance potential and said measures against it were politically motivated – even though time and again, reports pointing to the contrary emerge.
Just in December, ByteDance admitted it used TikTok to track journalists covering the company, including those from the Financial Times, Buzzfeed, and Forbes, which first reported the story.
On its home turf, ByteDance is also bearing the brunt of the government’s continued efforts to keep China’s technology companies in check.
Some of the reported job cuts at ByteDance included gaming positions, which reflects the government’s crackdown on the industry. At the same time, the ban on private tutoring derailed its plans for the education business.
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