June 17, 2020 / 8:00 AM / 17 days ago

TikTok owner ByteDance first-quarter revenue soared to around $5.6 billion

BEIJING/HONG KONG (Reuters) - Beijing-based ByteDance, the privately owned operator of short video app TikTok, booked around 40 billion yuan ($5.64 billion) in revenue for the January-March quarter, said two people with knowledge of the matter.

FILE PHOTO: TikTok logos are seen on smartphones in front of a displayed ByteDance logo in this illustration taken Nov. 27, 2019. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

The figure represents growth of more than 130% compared with the same period a year earlier, said one of the people, who declined to be identified as the matter is private.

ByteDance has set a 2020 revenue target of about 200 billion yuan, the other person said. The first person said ByteDance aims to reach revenue half that of rival Tencent Holdings Ltd (0700.HK).

Tencent, China’s leading social media and gaming firm, reported revenue of nearly 377 billion yuan in 2019.

ByteDance declined to comment.

The growth shows the extent to which eight-year-old ByteDance is capturing digital advertising spend. The bulk of the company’s revenue is mainly from advertising on its apps in China including news aggregator Jinri Toutiao as well as Douyin, its domestic version of TikTok, the people said, rather than from TikTok itself.

Before ByteDance emerged, China’s ad market had been mainly dominated by e-commerce leader Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (BABA.N), search engine operator Baidu Inc (BIDU.O) and Tencent.

The market grew 1.9% in January-March from the same period a year earlier to be worth 121.2 billion yuan, showed data from iResearch.

ByteDance’s apps enjoyed a huge boost in usage at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic as containment measures saw people practicing social distancing and staying at home. In January, six of the 10 most popular apps on China’s iOS App Store were owned by ByteDance, according to app performance tracker App Annie.

ByteDance has recently been valued at $95 billion to $140 billion in the market for private secondary trading, two people told Reuters.

The firm is trying to grow and monetise TikTok and last month named Walt Disney Co’s (DIS.N) former top streaming executive, Kevin Mayer, as TikTok’s new chief executive.

Reporting by Yingzhi Yang in Beijing and Julie Zhu in Hong Kong; Editing by Brenda Goh and Christopher Cushing

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