Chinese giant ByteDance hold discussions with Reliance at an early stage Industries Limited, the parent company of telecommunications giant Jio Platforms, for funding TikTok’s business in India to save the fate of users of the popular video app in its largest market, two people familiar with the matter told TechCrunch.
The two companies started talks late last month and have yet to reach an agreement, the sources said, asking for anonymity as the talks are private. TikToks The business in India, where it had over 200 million users before the ban in late June, is valued at more than $ 3 billion, according to one of the sources.
ByteDance did not respond to a request for a comment.
Investing in TikTok could help oil and retail giant Reliance, the most valuable company in India, create deeper connections with consumers. Although Jio Platforms has amassed nearly 400 million users in less than four years of existence in India, its consumer apps are struggling to replicate that appeal.
Since the end of April this year, the Indian giant̵
The preliminary talks between the two companies are taking place as ByteDance is also struggling to keep some key employees in India. A handful of senior company executives, including a political leader and Rohan Mishra, who oversaw the activities of ByteDance’s Helo app in India, have left the company in the past few weeks, according to those familiar with the matter. Mishra did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday lunchtime.
ByteDance has assured staff that it is talking to the Indian government to address New Delhi concerns and has no plans to lay off staff in the country. ByteDance employs around 2,000 people in India.
ByteDance is working separately with Microsoft to sell its business in select markets, including the US, the Windows maker confirmed earlier this month. The Financial Times reported last week that the two companies had expanded the scope of the deal to include TikTok’s business in other markets, including Europe and India.
Any deal with Reliance – owned by Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest man and ally of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi – could help ByteDance address concerns from the Indian government, the TikTok and 58 other apps developed by Chinese companies citing security concerns was banned at the end of June.
Numerous local startups, including Twitter-backed ShareChat and Gaana, and Times Internet’s MX Player, have launched standalone apps or built-in features to replicate the social experience that TikTok offers users. The local apps have claimed to have added tens of millions of new users in the past few weeks.
Facebook, which launched Reels on Instagram in India last month, has seen a more than 25% increase in daily engagement across its entire family of services since banning TikTok, according to a person familiar with the matter.