TikTok started a global business restructuring, including layoffs, according to five people familiar with the process.
The short video app, owned by Chinese parent company ByteDance, has rapidly expanded both its user base and staff in recent years. In spite of tensions with the Trump administration Due to concerns that it could be a tool of the Chinese government, TikTok surpassed 1 billion monthly active users in September and now employs thousands of employees around the world. Its rapid growth and success with younger users inspired Instagram Metas and Google’s YouTube to launch competing short video products.
But on Monday morning, some employees based in Europe were informed that their jobs were at risk and were told to expect invitations to meet with HR staff in the coming weeks, according to company sources. Some UK employees have been warned that there will be job cuts across a number of TikTok departments. When US employees started working a few hours later, some of them were informed that their roles were being eliminated.
The internal restructuring announced today includes layoffs and the closing of some vacant positions and affects TikTok’s business in the US, EU and UK, according to one employee. Plans to expand some teams within the company have been put on hold.
One of the first TikTok executives outside of China, David Ortiz, a Snap veteran, announced on LinkedIn today that he is leaving the company because his role has been eliminated as part of a “much larger reorganization.”
A senior employee who was aware of the changes did not deny the fact of restructuring with job cuts. A spokesperson for TikTok, in response to a request for comment this morning, did not dispute the layoffs but did not provide an official comment as of press time.
TikTok joins the ranks of big tech companies and startups that have suspended hiring or laid off employees in recent weeks due to fears of an economic slowdown. Recently the company abandoned plans expand its online shopping platform TikTok Shop, which is seen as a major new source of income in the US and Europe. One former TikTok employee who left the company earlier this year says the restructuring was likely due to the broader economic climate. “I don’t think what’s happening here with layoffs at TikTok is any different than what’s happening in big tech,” says the former employee.
Another TikTok employee says the layoffs were focused on individuals and teams that managers felt were not contributing enough to the company, and claimed the layoffs would be under 100. Previous TikTok statements and sources inside the company suggest that this was at least 10,000 employees in the US and Europe.
TikTok was created in 2018 after ByteDance acquired Chinese startup Musical.ly. Through rapid growth, the company has achieved milestones such as reaching 1 billion active users, gaining political attention, and playing on central role in the war much faster than older social networks like Facebook. “They’ve grown at a rate never seen before,” says Brendan Gahan, partner and chief social officer at New York-based marketing agency Mekanism. He suggests that the restructuring will not greatly weaken TikTok’s influence or popularity. “I can’t imagine that multiple layoffs are a sign of bigger problems or anything else that will slow them down.”
Ortiz, the chief executive who announced his departure from LinkedIn, declined to speak to WIRED. In his post, he pointed to the short but eventful trajectory of TikTok. “Working at TikTok was a real challenge.”
Credit: www.wired.com /