May 19, 2022

ByteDance Shelves IPO After Chinese Government “Warned” About Data Security

ByteDance Ltd., the Chinese owner of popular short-video app TikTok, put on hold indefinitely its intentions to list offshore earlier this year after government officials told the company to focus on addressing data-security risks, people familiar with the matter said.

The Beijing-based social-media giant, last valued at $180 billion in a funding round in December, had been weighing an initial public offering of all or some of its businesses in the U.S. or Hong Kong, according to people familiar with the company’s plans.

But the company’s founder, Zhang Yiming, decided it would be wiser to put the plans on ice in late March, after meetings with cyberspace and securities regulators in which they asked the company to focus on addressing data-security risks and other issues, the people familiar with the matter said.

The company had other reasons for delaying the listing. It didn’t have a chief financial officer at the time, a person close to the company said.

ByteDance’s cautious approach contrasts with that of Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Global Inc., which runs the country’s ubiquitous car-hailing app. Didi pressed ahead with listing plans in the U.S. despite suggestions from the cyberspace administration not to amid concerns that some of its data could fall into foreign hands.

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