Chinese Internet giant ByteDance is reportedly on the hunt for a location to set up a global headquarters for its massively viral video sharing app, TikTok.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the firm is looking outside of China as it hopes to distance the app from carrying a ‘Made in China’ image.
This concern stems from the US’ increasing scrutiny over the app’s user data handling, especially after TikTok skyrocketed to the top of US and global app store downloads in 2019, above Instagram and Snapchat.
Although TikTok currently operates from a main office in Los Angeles, with other senior executives based in Shanghai, the firm is not planning to locate its global HQ in either of those cities.
Sources familiar with the company told WSJ that Singapore is one of the cities being considered, alongside London and Dublin.
Is Singapore A Likely Choice?
ByteDance already has a presence here, albeit with just a short history.
The firm set up their Singapore team in a WeWork coworking office in December 2018.
Just one year later, it was speculated that ByteDance would be leasing a whopping 60,000 sq ft space in One Raffles Quay, a Grade A office building located in the central business district (CBD).
WSJ also confirmed with real estate consultancy Savills Singapore that the firm has indeed already taken up two floors in the prime location.
A quick look on ByteDance and TikTok’s careers pages reveals that they are hiring for many positions here, including roles in product management, software engineering, data and risk analysis, and monetisation strategies.
ByteDance lists 68 openings in Singapore—the highest number of openings the firm is offering outside China—while TikTok lists 30 openings.
This wouldn’t be the first time ByteDance chooses Singapore as the global headquarters for one of its products.
The Chinese firm headquartered its corporate productivity tool, Lark, in Singapore and launched the product from here in April 2019.
Besides all this, Singapore also has a track record for attracting global tech giants, due to strong government support for businesses and access to a wide talent pool from the region.
Google and Facebook both manage their Asia Pacific operations from offices in Singapore.
Even Uber has still chosen to park its APAC headquarters in Singapore to manage markets like India, Australia and Japan, despite having no more operations here (or anywhere else in Southeast Asia for that matter).
However, London and Dublin are also strong contenders, especially if TikTok plans to heavily target the European market.
If ByteDance decides to establish TikTok’s global HQ in Singapore, it will be a pretty big deal for Singapore to gain another heavyweight in addition to our growing ecosystem of global tech giants.
ByteDance is currently valued at US$75 billion.
Featured Image Credit: Caixin Global