ByteDance, the Chinese owner of the popular short-form video-sharing app TikTok, is reportedly planning to establish a data center in Singapore. The Beijing-based company is willing to invest several billion dollars in order to make the city-state its "beachhead," Bloomberg reports.
According to people familiar with the matter, ByteDance has applied for a license to operate a digital bank in Singapore. The company plans to add hundreds of jobs in the city-state over the next three years. It already has more than 200 job openings for the region. Open positions span across industries including payments, e-commerce, and data privacy.
ByteDance currently employs over 400 employees in the region, working across technology, sales, and marketing. Along with TikTok, the company also operates an enterprise software business called Lark in Singapore.
Its other businesses include Toutiao, a news aggregation app, and Douyin, the Chinese variant of TikTok. These two services, however, are limited to the company's home country China. Collectively, ByteDance has more than 1.5 billion monthly active users across its products globally. It reportedly generated more than $17 billion in revenue in 2019, with $3 billion in net profit.
Singapore is rapidly emerging as a hub for several Western and Chinese companies. ByteDance is now seemingly trying to grab a strong foothold there, as it tries to find a permanent solution to the kinds of troubles it's facing in India, the US, and the UK.
"Singapore is highly attractive to tech firms looking for a hub to address the Southeast Asian markets due to geographic proximity," said Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Vey-Sern Ling. "The workforce is highly educated, tech-savvy, and multilingual."
TikTok may not be able to work out a way for survival in the US
The reports of ByteDance's multi-billion investment in Singapore comes at a time when it's facing a life-threatening situation in the US. The Trump administration has threatened to ban TikTok in the nation on security grounds unless its Chinese parent divests the app's US operations to an American company.
While several tech biggies have shown interest in the app, no deals have been finalized yet. And ByteDance is unlikely to reach any deal before the deadline of September 15. President Trump on Thursday said that he won't extend the deadline any further, although there were suggestions of ByteDance getting time until mid-November.
Recent reports suggested that TikTok is offering alternate arrangements to the US government to keep its operations alive. However, those arrangements seemingly didn't satisfy President Trump.
TikTok is among the 150+ Chinese consumer apps the Indian government has banned recently. The hugely popular social media app is facing a similar fate in the UK as well.