TikTok parent ByteDance is looking to re-enter India

TikTok, the short-video platform, was an instant success in India soon after it launched in September 2016. For ByteDance, India was among the biggest markets outside China and in 2019, the 15-second video platform was the top downloaded app in India on the Android platform.

Chinese video sharing app TikTok was banned along with 58 other apps such as UC Browser, Shein and more nearly two years ago over national security concerns. TikTok is now looking to re-enter India and re-hire its former employees.

According to an Economic Times report, TikTok’s parent company ByteDance is reportedly looking to re-enter India. The company reportedly wants to enter India by joining forces with a domestic firm with an intention to avoid the government’s scrutiny.

ByteDance had shut operations in 2021, nearly a year after being banned in India. The company is now reportedly in talks with Mumbai’s realty major Hiranandani Group to strike a partnership.

The Hiranandani Group runs data centre operations under the Yotta Infrastructure Solutions and recently launched Tez Platforms, a technology-led consumer services platform. The company is looking to invest INR 3,500 crore in the next two years in its latest venture.

While the talks are at a nascent stage, the company is not looking to ruffle any feathers and has informally informed the central government about its intentions of re-entering India with a local partner.
“There have been no formal talks with us yet. But we have been informed of the plans. As and when they come to us for approvals, we will examine their request,” a senior government official familiar with the matter told ET.

It’s not clear if ByteDance is looking to partner with the Hiranandani Group’s new venture Tez Platforms or is hoping to store its data in the Yotta Infrastructure Solutions’ data centres. Storing user data locally has been one of the major demands of the government.

“Critical user data should not be stored outside India. All apps and websites have either made provisions to store data locally or are making necessary changes to their data storage and processing policies. If they (Tiktok) come back, they will have to follow these norms,” an official familiar with the matter told ET.

While officials in the government have confirmed that they have been informed about ByteDance’s plans, TikTok is not confirming its plans. The company informed ET that while the company is hopeful about resuming operations, it had no plans to resume operations in India, as of now.

India was one of the biggest markets for TikTok and the company employed over 2,000 people in the country during its peak. While most of these employees have been let go, some of the employees were handed other responsibilities.