ByteDance trims India workforce

  • The Chinese short-video app has over 2,000 employees in the country

Prasid Banerjee
Updated28 Jan 2021, 12:01 AM IST
Photo: AP
Photo: AP

Short video app TikTok, owned by Chinese Internet giant ByteDance, on Wednesday said it has decided to slash staff in India after the country extended a ban on the app.

Vanessa Pappas, the interim global head of TikTok, told employees on Wednesday about the company’s decision in a letter, a copy of which was reviewed by Mint.

“As you can imagine, the magnitude of this decision is not easy. For the last several months, our management team has worked tirelessly to avoid having to separate anyone from the company. We’ve cut expenses, while still paying benefits. However, we simply cannot responsibly stay fully staffed while our apps remain unoperational,” she wrote.

India first imposed the ban on TikTok and 58 other Chinese apps in June, but extended the ban after the companies failed to convince the government that they have complied with security and privacy requirements.

Pappas said the company is unsure when it will be able to return to India, but remains hopeful.

The letter does not mention how many out of its 2,000-plus employees in India TikTok will let go.

TikTok staff have been exploring jobs for a while now, with rival Indian apps looking to hire from the company.

Earlier, some employees seeking anonymity had indicated that TikTok India had given pay hikes despite the ban.

Holding company ByteDance’s revenue more than doubled in 2020, despite troubles in markets such as India and the US. Its revenues rose to $35 billion in 2020, with operating profit touching $7 billion against $4 billion in 2019.

TikTok’s executives have repeatedly reached out to government officials but have failed to elicit a response so far.

The Chinese app was among the first list of apps banned by the government after a deadly clash between troops of the two sides on the Ladakh border.

The government recently wrote to the companies extending the ban.

TikTok has maintained it is in compliance with local laws and was reviewing the notice sent to it by the government.

“We have worked steadfastly to comply with the government of India order issued on 29 June 2020. We continually strive to make our apps comply with local laws and regulations and do our best to address any concerns they have,” a company spokesperson said.

“It is, therefore, disappointing that in the ensuing seven months, despite our efforts, we have not been given clear direction on how and when our apps could be reinstated. It is deeply regretful that after supporting our 2,000+ employees in India for more than half a year, we have no choice but to scale back the size of our workforce. We look forward to receiving the opportunity to relaunch TikTok and support the hundreds of millions of users, artists, storytellers, educators and performers in India,” the spokesperson added.

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First Published:28 Jan 2021, 12:01 AM IST
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