ByteDance is reportedly exploring the possibility of selling TikTok’s Indian business to rival Glance in an attempt to revive the once-thriving social short video sharing app that has been banned indefinitely in India.
According to the South China Morning Post informants, the discussion of the deal was initiated by the Japanese conglomerate SoftBank – the negotiations are private, preliminary and complex. SoftBank sponsors InMobi, Glance’s parent company, and ByteDance, TikTok’s Chinese parent company.
There are allegedly four parties involved in the discussions. Negotiations are underway between SoftBank, ByteDance and Glance, but any deal will also require final approval from Indian authorities. Last year, India banned thousands of popular Chinese apps, including TikTok, following tensions along the border between India and China.
SoftBank is trying to save TikTok’s assets in India and is looking for local partners. If negotiations continue, the Indian government will insist that all TikTok user data and technology remain within its borders, sources said. Relations between New Delhi and Beijing remain tense, and India will not just go along with Chinese tech companies. China’s new technology export regulations make negotiations even more difficult: any deal to sell a TikTok business may also require approval from the Chinese authorities.
A dramatic turn in TikTok’s fortunes came last summer, after the app attracted over 200 million users in India, its largest market. The Indian government has cited threats to its sovereignty and security by outlawing dozens of Chinese apps, including TikTok, and indicated last month that the ban is permanent. ByteDance then began to scale back its local operations, laying off hundreds of Indian employees, many of whom have since moved on to local rival companies.
Potential TikTok partner, Glance Digital Experience, headquartered in Bangalore, is a mobile content platform created by Harvard Business School alumnus Naveen Tewari. He is the founder of InMobi, which became the first unicorn in India in December after a series of major investments (unicorn is a start-up company founded after 2003 with a value of over $ 1 billion). Glance’s short video sharing platform – Roposo, which is 20 months old – has seen a dramatic growth since the TikTok ban.
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