Despite TikTok ban, parent Bytedance plans $1 billion investment in India

Despite TikTok ban, parent Bytedance plans $1 billion investment in India

TikTok’s parent company Bytedance has revealed plans to invest $1 billion in India over the next three years. The Chinese IT major will reportedly increase its workforce in India to 1,000 people by the end of this year. Bytedance’s plans for India come close on the heels of a court-imposed ban on TikTok over allegations of sharing inappropriate content.

“We are obviously disappointed by the current developments, but we are also very optimistic that we will resolve this issue. We remain committed to our Indian users. As a company, we are looking to invest $1 billion over the next three years in India, that is how bullish we will remain to be here”, PTI quoted ByteDance Director (International Public Policy) Helena Lersch as saying.

Lersch added that the company has been strengthening its content moderation policies over the last months. The content moderation team in India, which looks at the posts passed by a machine learning tool, is proficient in 14 local languages and can make culturally relevant decision, she added.

“About 25 per cent of that (workforce of 1,000 employees) will be just content moderation, which means there is full-time moderation staff based in India… We have around 250 full-time staff (right now) but we are very growing that rapidly,” Lersch told PTI.

Founded by Zhang Yiming, Bytedance is considered to be one of the world’s most valuable start-ups with investors like SoftBank, General Atlantic, KKR and Sequoia backing it. Apart from the now banned TikTok, the company provides platforms like Vigo Video and Helo In India for content creation and sharing.

Leading short video application TikTok has over 120 million users in India and is popular among youngsters.

The Madras High Court on April 3, 2019, had directed the Centre to ban TikTok, saying it was evident from media reports that pornography and inappropriate content were made available through such mobile applications. Soon after, tech giants Google and Apple removed TikTok from their app stores in India to prohibit further downloads of the application.

However, those who have already downloaded the app will be able to use it on their phones.

Lersch declined to comment on court proceedings as the matter is sub judice. The hearing of the matter is scheduled for April 22, 2019, in the Supreme Court and for April 24, 2019, in the Madras High Court.