TikTok slashes ad sales target by US$2b after tech downturn

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ByteDance's TikTok has slashed about US$2 billion off its target for 2022 ad revenue, underscoring the fallout of a global downturn that's hammered fellow internet giants from Google to Meta Platforms.

TikTok chief executive officer Shou Zi Chew told a handful of employees during a recent meeting that the Chinese-owned app has slashed its ad forecast for 2022 to US$10 billion from at least US$12 billion previously, according to a person briefed on the matter. The revision didn't include smaller business segments such as e-commerce, the person added, asking to not be identified discussing private information.

The downsized ambition reflects a pullback in marketing spending worldwide as companies and consumers tighten budgets and prepare to ride out a potential recession. Many of the world's largest firms including Alphabet, Amazon.com, Meta and Microsoft have reported results that largely fell short of projections, shaving hundreds of millions to billions of dollars from their market valuations.

ByteDance grew into the world's most valuable startup on the success of apps like TikTok and its Chinese counterpart Douyin, but it's been squeezed between Beijing's crackdown on internet firms at home and Washington's suspicions of the services.

Concerns around how TikTok stores US user data and manages information flows between employees in China and elsewhere have resurfaced among American lawmakers and politicians as they geared up for the midterm elections.

Like most social media platforms, TikTok makes most of its revenue from advertising. 

Parent ByteDance has postponed plans for an initial public offering as investors flee riskier assets. In September, it offered to buy back as much as US$3 billion of its own shares at a valuation of about US$300 billion, giving existing backers a way to cash out. Douyin makes far more revenue but it's unclear how the Chinese downturn is affecting that unit.

Representatives for TikTok didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on the revenue target, which was first reported by the Financial Times. BLOOMBERG

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