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Seven months into TikTok ban, ByteDance to “scale back” India workforce

Seven months into TikTok ban, ByteDance to “scale back” India workforce
Photo Credit: 123RF.com
27 Jan, 2021

Beijing-headquartered internet conglomerate ByteDance on Wednesday said it would “scale back” its workforce in India, nearly seven months after its popular short video app TikTok and local language social media platform Helo continue to be banned by the government.

“We continually strive to make our apps comply with local laws and regulations and do our best to address any concerns they have. It is therefore disappointing that in the ensuing seven months, despite our efforts we have not been given a clear direction on how and when our apps could be reinstated,” a TikTok spokesperson said in a statement issued in response to specific queries from TechCircle. 

The spokesperson further added, “It is deeply regretful that after supporting our 2000+ 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, story-tellers, educators and performers in India.”

The layoffs were first reported by Reuters, citing an internal memo from ByteDance to its employees. 

TikTok was banned on June 29, 2020, by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) along with 58 other Chinese-origin apps.

Incidentally, while the TikTok spokesperson claimed that it currently employed more than 2,000 people in India, the TikTok India page stated that the company employed over 1,000 employees across its offices in Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru. These employees work across functions including operations, marketing, public policy, trust and safety, partnerships and alliances, content moderation and communications, says the TikTok India page. 

The company did not respond to queries on the actual number of employees on ByteDance’s payroll in India. 

Soon after the government banned TikTok, senior ByteDance employees had reached out to head-hunters for opportunities in the market. Further, chief of Helo app in India, Rohan Mishra resigned from his post in August 2020, soon after the ban. ByteDance has also launched its music app Resso in India in 2019, which escaped the ban by MeitY. ByteDance had also proposed to set up a data centre in India in 2019 which never took off apart from an investment plan of $1 billion in the country over a three-year period.