Chinese giants ByteDance is engaged in initial discussions with Reliance Industries Limited, the parent company of telecom giant Jio Platforms, financed TikTok’s Indian business in a move that could potentially save the fate of the popular video app in the big market. Most of them, two people familiar with the matter told TechCrunch.
Sources said the two companies started chats late last month and have yet to reach an agreement, asking for anonymity because the talks are private. TikTok̵7;s business in India, where it had more than 200 million users before being banned at the end of June, is being valued at more than $ 3 billion, one of the sources said.
ByteDance did not respond to a request for comment.
An investment in TikTok could help oil retail giant Reliance, India’s most valuable company, connect more deeply with consumers. Even as Jio Platforms drew close to 400 million users in India in less than four years of its existence, its consumer-facing apps struggled to replicate that appeal.
Since the end of April this year, the Indian giant’s digital venture has raised around $ 20 billion from 13 prominent investors, including Facebook and Google. Google said it will be working with Jio Platforms to roll out a customized version of the Android mobile operating system that will power low-cost Android smartphones. Facebook said it will partner with Reliance to help digitize the country’s 60 million SMEs.
Preliminary negotiations between the two companies come as ByteDance is also struggling to retain some of its key employees in India. Some of the company’s senior executives, including the head of policy and Rohan Mishra, who oversees the operations of the Helo app owned by ByteDance in India, have left the company in recent weeks. , according to people familiar with the matter. Mishra did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday afternoon.
ByteDance has assured employees that they are in talks with the Indian government to address New Delhi’s concerns and that there are no plans to lay off staff in the country. ByteDance employs about 2,000 employees in India.
ByteDance is partnering privately with Microsoft to sell its business in certain markets, including the US, the Windows maker confirmed earlier this month. The Financial Times reported last week that the two companies have expanded the scope of the deal to include TikTok’s business in other markets, including Europe and India.
Any deal with Reliance – owned by Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest man and an ally of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi – could help ByteDance alleviate the concerns of the Indian government, which have already banned. TikTok and 58 other applications developed by Chinese companies citing security concerns in Late June.
Many local startups, including Twitter-backed ShareChat and Times Internet’s Gaana and MX Player, have rolled out standalone apps or built-in features to replicate the social experience TikTok offers. for users. Local apps have claimed to have added tens of millions of new users in recent weeks.
Facebook, which launched Reels on Instagram in India last month, has seen daily engagement across its entire service pool increase by more than 25% since the TikTok ban, according to an acquaintance. belongs to this problem.