TikTok’s US revenue hit $16B as potential forced sale looms: report

TikTok’s US revenue reportedly hit a whopping $16 billion last year – driving up the potential price tag for interested suitors after the House passed a bill requiring the China-owned app to be sold within six months or face a total ban.

The astronomical sales in the US were the highest in company history, The Financial Times reported, citing three sources with knowledge of its finances — and the revenue surge could boost the value of TikTok’s US operations to as high as $150 billion.

Revenue at TikTok’s Beijing-based parent firm ByteDance jumped 40% to $120 billion in 2023 – most of which was generated in China. By comparison, Facebook and Instagram parent Meta took in $135 billion in revenue last year.

TikTok’s US sales reportedly hit $16 billion last year. REUTERS

TikTok itself is still unprofitable, even though ByteDance reportedly recorded $28 billion in net profit last year.

But fears of the Chinese government’s influence over the popular video-sharing app led the House on Wednesday to vote 352-65 in favor of the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act. 

As The Post reported, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) faces major pressure to hold a vote on the bill. President Joe Biden has vowed to sign the bill if it reaches his desk.

TikTok and its parent ByteDance – as well as the Chinese government – have vowed to fight any attempt to force a sale of the app. Nevertheless, a short list of potential US buyers has already emerged.

Ex-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin – who served in former President Donald Trump’s cabinet when he attempted to ban TikTok by executive order – said Thursday that he is putting together a group of investors to buy the firm.

Here’s what to know about the potential TikTok ban

  • House lawmakers voted Wednesday to compel Chinese Communist Party-tied ByteDance to sell off TikTok within six months or face the popular social media app being banned in the US.
  • Rep. Mike Gallagher, the Republican chair of the House select China committee, told TikTok to “break up with the Chinese Communist Party or lose access to your American users.”
  • The bill would give ByteDance 165 days to divest TikTok, which is used by more than 170 million Americans, or it would be unlawful for app stores to offer TikTok or to provide web hosting services to ByteDance-controlled applications.
  • The House Energy and Commerce Committee passed the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act by a 50-0 vote during a markup session.
  • According to the bill, TikTok fans in the US can keep scrolling through their favorite social media app so long as Beijing-based ByteDance gives up on owning it.
  • Former White House adviser Steve Bannon jumped on Donald Trump over his opposition to banning TikTok — suggesting his ex-boss’s objections may be motivated by a billionaire donor who holds a large stake in the Chinese-owned app. Trump argued that banning it would further empower Facebook, which he called an “enemy of the people.”
  • What TikTok users, content creators need to know as Congress inches closer to banning app in US

Elsewhere, former Activision-Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick has approached ByteDance’s leadership about a potential acquisition, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The steep price will make it difficult for interested US buyers to scrape together the financing necessary to acquire TikTok.

As The Post reported earlier this week, one tech executive suggested the strength of TikTok’s business and strong revenue would make it difficult for any but the largest tech players to buy the app.

Former Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said he’s putting together a group to buy TikTok. AP
Tech executive Bobby Kotick reportedly approached ByteDance about a potential deal. REUTERS

“At a Meta multiple, that’s $160 billion dollars,” the tech executive said. “Who’s going to buy a $160 billion company? That’s hard.”

Some experts have floated large-cap tech and social media firms such as Microsoft, Microsoft, and Google as logical buyers – but US antitrust regulators would surely seek to block a deal involving companies of that size.

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