TikTok has laid off at least 60 staff, predominantly in the sales and advertising division, becoming the latest in a line of major tech companies to make job cuts.
The redundancies largely affect teams in the US, according to a company spokesperson, where TikTok has around 7,000 employees. Parent company ByteDance has more than 150,000 staff in total.
The precise breakdown of the roles affected is unknown, with conflicting reports suggesting the layoffs could exceed 100 jobs. The social video company has planned a town hall session to take place today.
In November, ByteDance was reportedly planing to wind down its gaming business, in a move that would also result in hundreds of job cuts. Earlier this month, the company said it was exploring options to sell its gaming assets.
Early warning signs
TikTok put the advertising redundancies down to a routine reorganisation. But the Chinese business joins a host of tech companies cutting staff in recent months, pointing to wider pressures on the tech industry. Rising costs, reduced ad sales and investment in AI have prompted Big Tech firms to reduce their headcounts.
And TikTok has weathered the storm longer than most. TikTok’s ad revenues are forecast to reach $13.2 billion in 2023, according to eMarketer, representing a 33 percent YoY increase. ByteDance is estimated to be one of the most valuable private companies in the world, with a valuation around $225 billion.
Although the job losses are not as severe as those to hit rival tech firms, they could be an early warning sign of deeper cuts to come. Amazon cut 500 roles from its Twitch division earlier this month, with hundreds more layoffs planned at Prime Video and Amazon MGM Studios. Google also announced hundreds of advertising redundancies last week, after reducing its headcount by 12,000 last year, with 100 job cuts to hit YouTube.
But the deepest cuts have been at Meta, which has axed more than 20,000 jobs since November 2022. Ad revenues have taken a hit, partly due to competition from TikTok, which undercut its social media rivals on price. According to media agency VaynerMedia, TikTok CPMs were half the price of Instagram Reels in 2022, and one-third cheaper than Twitter.
Meanwhile TikTok faces mounting pressure from US regulators citing national security concerns. ByteDance has been accused of sharing personal data with the Chinese government, and admitted to spying on journalists in December 2022. The Indian government banned TikTok in 2020, which led to a surge of Instagram downloads in the country.