ByteDance to Sell TikTok India Operations to Rival Glance?
Glance owns the short video sharing app Roposo, which has over 130 million users following the ban on TikTok.
The company behind the popular short video sharing app Tiktok, ByteDance Ltd, is considering a sale of its India operations to rival platform owner Glance, according to Bloomberg News.
TikTok was one of several Chinese apps banned by the Indian government in June 2020, following tensions at the Indo-Chinese border in Ladakh. The talks appear to be driven by the Japanese Softbank conglomerate, which has shareholdings in Glance’s parent company InMobi Pte as well as ByteDance.
Bloomberg News reports that the Indian government will also need to provide a final seal of approval to any deal of this sort, owing to Centre’s expressed concerns on user data remaining within India. With China bringing in new rules on export of technology, even the Chinese authorities might be involved in any deal.
TikTok had become wildly popular in India with over 200 million users, making the country its largest market, prior to the government ban. The ban, following the procedure under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act and the 2009 Blocking Rules, was initially an interim measure, but the government indicated in January 2021 that it would be made permanent.
The Centre recently invoked the same procedure to get Twitter to block several accounts which they claim have Khalistani connections.
Glance’s short video sharing platform is called Roposo. Following the ban on Tiktok, it reportedly has over 130 million users in India. Glance became a ‘unicorn’ (ie a startup with a valuation of over USD 1 billion) in December 2020, following investment by Google and one of Peter Thiel’s investment firms, Bloomberg reports.
The company, based in Bangalore, was started by entrepreneur Naveen Tewari, whose InMobi was the first Indian ‘unicorn’ startup.
TikTok continues to face trouble in not just India but the United States as well. Former president Donald Trump had made similar allegations about data sharing by the app, claiming US users’ data could be obtained by the Chinese government, which was considered a national security risk.
ByteDance has been trying to sell its US operations to Oracle and Walmart, even as US courts have blocked attempts by the previous administration to ban the app. Reuters has reported that the Oracle and Walmart acquisition has been pushed back indefinitely, with new US president Joe Biden looking into concerns over US users’ data.
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