ByteDance increased its revenues 111 per cent last year to $34bn and had 1.9bn monthly users across its apps at the end of the year, said its incoming chief executive Liang Rubo on Thursday, according to people familiar with the matter.
The owner of the short-video apps TikTok and Douyin recorded a surge in users as coronavirus lockdowns across the world left people searching for more entertainment online. Douyin, the Chinese sister app to TikTok, was ByteDance’s largest driver of revenue and has become a destination for shoppers looking to buy products from livestreaming presenters.
Facebook, the world’s biggest social media group, reported 2.85bn monthly users as of March 31.
ByteDance recorded an annual gross profit of $19bn, an operating loss of $2bn and a net loss of $45bn primarily because of non-cash items including fair-value changes of certain shares and share-based compensation, as well as heavy investment in new businesses, the people said. The company had 110,000 employees at the end of they year.
The financials were first reported by the Wall Street Journal and Chinese media.
Its chief rival in China, Kuaishou, reported a net loss of $15.4bn on $8.5bn in revenue last year — four times less than ByteDance — and 481m monthly users during the period. Kuaishou is trading in Hong Kong at a market capitalisation of HK$801bn ($103bn), while ByteDance has yet to reveal its plans for an initial public offering.
ByteDance raised about $5bn in December at a $180bn valuation, according to people familiar with the matter. The Beijing-based company is the world’s most valuable start-up, according to CB Insights.
Liang made his first all-hands staff meeting speech on Thursday after he began the transition to chief executive last month, following founder Zhang Yiming’s announcement that he would step down at the end of the year. Zhang said he wanted to focus on innovation and “longer-term initiatives”.
Liang, a ByteDance co-founder who staff regard as Zhang’s loyal right-hand man, was previously head of human resources. Even after a six-month handover period, staff said they expected him to not make big changes and to continue taking direction from Zhang.
As Beijing increases its scrutiny of tech giants, several high-profile founders and chiefs have stepped back this year. Colin Huang stepped down as chair of ecommerce platform Pinduoduo in March, days after Eric Jing resigned as chief of Ant Group.
Liang told employees he was disclosing the financial figures as part of a drive for greater transparency at the company.