ByteDance, the Chinese parent company of popular social media app TikTok, has reported record profits of USD 25 billion for 2022, surpassing those of tech giants Tencent and Alibaba for the first time. Despite ongoing losses in the TikTok business unit, ByteDance’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) increased by 79% year-on-year to USD 25 billion, up from USD 14 billion in the previous fiscal year.
The company’s revenue grew by over 30% to more than USD 80 billion, with TikTok and Douyin, its Chinese counterpart, attracting attention from social media giants and advertisers. ByteDance’s double-digit revenue growth outpaced that of most global internet leaders, including Meta and Amazon, underscoring the resilience of its business model in the face of growing concerns about data handling and security.
However, TikTok’s future remains uncertain due to mounting regulatory pressures in the United States and other countries. The Biden administration has threatened to ban the app in the US unless ByteDance sells it, citing concerns about its data handling and potential security risks. More than a dozen other countries have partially or fully banned TikTok for similar reasons, including the UK, Canada, and Australia.
Despite these challenges, an investor in ByteDance in the US believes that the TikTok ban will not significantly damage the company’s financial situation at present, as TikTok accounts for only a small percentage of ByteDance’s total revenue. Nevertheless, any forced sale or ban on TikTok would impact the company’s potential earnings, given its rapid growth rate.
ByteDance’s IPO prospects also remain uncertain, as the company has repeatedly delayed its planned listing on the Hong Kong stock market since the end of 2020. Analysts say that the ongoing regulatory pressures surrounding TikTok and Ant Financial, another Chinese tech giant, have dampened investor confidence in the company’s future prospects.
Despite these challenges, Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, remains ByteDance’s biggest cash cow, and the company’s robust performance could boost investor confidence in the face of recent global events. Abu Dhabi-based artificial intelligence firm G42 recently valued ByteDance at around USD 220 billion, down from the USD 300 billion valuation set by TikTok’s owner for a share buyback program in September 2022.