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  • Lawrence Ng

TikTok's Owner ByteDance Laid Off Hundreds of Employees

ByteDance, TikTok's owner, has terminated hundreds of employees across several departments on the last day of 2022 as part of the company's attempts to streamline operations.

ByteDance office
Credit: AFP

According to SCMP, the layoffs represent a tiny portion of ByteDance's workforce, which is one of the major employers in China's IT industry, employing over one hundred thousand people globally. 

ByteDance layoffs were initially reported by Chinese media source Jiemian. According to the report, ByteDance's business collaboration tool Feishu, better known as Lark, was one of the most impacted departments, impacting around 10% of the staff. Feishu or Lark, is an all-in-one collaboration work suite similar to Google Suite. The report also stated that those let off would be rewarded depending on the number of years of service plus one month's income.

Oddly ByteDance is also hiring at the same time with over ten thousand job listings on their website, in locations across the globe, including Beijing, London, and California, ranging from engineers to marketeers.

The layoffs occurred after CEO Liang Rubo, who used to oversee human resources before taking over from founder Zhang Yiming in 2021, informed colleagues in late December that the firm needed to "get fit and bulk up the muscle," a term he has regularly used in the last year to simplify operations.

ByteDance faces a difficult year as TikTok confronts political headwinds in the United States and an unknown regulatory climate in China. TikTok has been barred on all federal government devices in the United States, and at least 19 states have stopped using it on state-managed devices. The Wall Street Journal reported last month that the White House is also contemplating forcing the sale of TikTok's US business.

It is not the first time that the almost ten-year-old firm has reduced its workforce. Following Beijing's prohibition on private tutoring in 2021, it laid off thousands, and in 2022, it slashed hundreds of employees from its video game operations in Shanghai and Hangzhou.

Meanwhile, the company's IPO ambition is also surrounded with uncertainties. ByteDance's chief financial officer, Julie Gao, informed staff in September that the company had no intentions to go public.

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