INTERNATIONAL – China’s ByteDance, owner of video-sharing app TikTok and one of the world’s most valuable unicorns, booked revenue of 50-60 billion yuan ($7 billion to $8.4 billion) in a better-than-expected result for the first half, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
ByteDance, which was loss-making in the first-half, also posted a profit in June and was confident of making a profit in the second half of the year, one of the people said, declining to be identified as the company has not made a public announcement.
Robust growth has led the Beijing-based startup to revise its revenue target for 2019 to 120 billion yuan from an earlier goal set late last year of 100 billion yuan, a second person said.
Earnings figures for last year were not immediately available. According to online tech news outlet The Information, ByteDance revenue for the whole of 2018 was $7.2 billion.
ByteDance declined to comment.
The seven-year-old startup, which separate sources have said was valued at $78 billion late last year, also owns Chinese news aggregator Jinri Toutiao, meaning “Today’s Headlines”, as well as a domestic version of TikTok, known as Douyin.
Most of the company’s revenue is garnered in China, the second person familiar with the matter said, adding that while Douyin generates advertising fees, TikTok is still in the early stages of making money.
Analysts have called ByteDance a strong threat to other Chinese tech industry firms including social media and gaming giant Tencent Holdings Ltd and search engine leader Baidu Inc. Globally, ByteDance’s apps have 1.5 billion monthly active users and 700 million daily active users, the company said in July.
Last month it launched a search engine that sits within Toutiao, putting it in direct competition with Baidu. It has also acquired a Chinese-language Wikipedia-like website called Baike.com to further boost content.
Aiming to expand in markets outside China, ByteDance recently launched work efficiency app Lark and is planning to launch a paid music-streaming app.
Its aggressive push into new areas has helped lift global headcount to around 50,000 currently, compared with 40,000 last year.