ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok has slashed about $2 billion off its target for 2022 ad revenue, underscoring fallout of a global downturn that’s hammered fellow internet giants from Google to Meta Platforms Inc.
TikTok Chief Executive Officer Shou Zi Chew told a handful of employees that the Chinese-owned app has slashed its ad forecast for 2022 to $10 billion from at least $12 billion previously. The revision didn’t include smaller business segments such as e-commerce.
The downsized ambition reflects a pullback in marketing spending worldwide as companies and consumers tighten budgets and prepare to ride out a potential recession. Many of the world’s largest firms including Alphabet Inc., Amazon.com Inc., Meta and Microsoft Corp. have reported results that largely fell short of projections, shaving hundreds of millions to billions of dollars from their market valuations.
ByteDance grew into the world’s most valuable startup on the success of apps like TikTok and its Chinese counterpart Douyin, but it’s been squeezed between Beijing’s crackdown on internet firms at home and Washington’s suspicions of the services. Concerns around how TikTok stores US user data and manages information flows between employees in China and elsewhere have resurfaced among American lawmakers and politicians as they geared up for the mid-term elections.
Like most social media platforms, TikTok makes most of its revenue from advertising.
Parent ByteDance has postponed plans for an initial public offering as investors flee riskier assets. In September, it offered to buy back as much as $3 billion of its own shares at a valuation of about $300 billion, giving existing backers a way to cash out. Douyin makes far more revenue but it’s unclear how the Chinese downturn is affecting that unit.