TikTok parent company, ByteDance, halts hiring in India; tries to retain employees

Bengaluru | Kolkata: ByteDance has frozen hiring and reassigned some senior management roles in India amid people leaving or looking to exit the Chinese company following the ban on its TikTok and Helo apps, according to multiple people familiar with the matter. Some are said to be worried about any stigma that might get attached to working for a Chinese company, following border clashes.

The company, which has 2,000 employees in India, is trying to hold on to staff amid discussions of a sale of TikTok with Microsoft and Twitter. It has even initiated a performance review cycle to portray a sense of stability to employees. No formal layoffs are taking place and the company has emphasised to employees, through internal communications, that the situation is stable, the people said. ByteDance didn’t respond to queries.

“We’ve had at least five-six senior professionals from Bytedance reach out to us,” said Anuj Roy, managing partner at executive search firm Fidius Advisory. “This includes individuals who had joined the company even a few months ago. A lot of senior-level hiring happened at Bytedance over the last year or so.”

ByteDance had been actively hiring since January, stepping up the pace as traffic increased amid the lockdown. They made offers in April-May but put them on hold when the Indian government banned 59 Chinese apps, TikTok and Helo among them, according to Anshuman Das, managing partner at executive search firm Longhouse Consulting. The bans were imposed due to national security concerns in the wake of border hostilities in June.

Short-video app Bolo Indya is in the process of hiring people from ByteDance. Two-three people reach out to the startup every other day, according to CEO Varun Saxena. “We have a good pipeline from TikTok and Helo,” he said. “They are looking out because of uncertainty and perception issues.” Chingari CEO Sumit Ghosh has also hired people from ByteDance, he said.

Several senior management employees at ByteDance are in the process of being reassigned to overseas markets, including the Middle East and Australia, according the people cited above.

Mid and junior-level employees are seeking opportunities at competitors. Rival short video apps, including Chingari, Trell, Bolo Indya, Sharechat’s Moj, DailyHunt’s Josh and Mitron are being flooded with resumes. Rooter Sports has also received CVs and is open to hiring sales and revenue executives from the Chinese company. Rivals value the employees for their success in building creator and user communities in India at ByteDance and helping with monetisation.

“All Chinese companies (in India) have amazing talent who are now looking to work with Indian companies,” said Pulkit Agarwal, cofounder at lifestyle video app Trell. “So far we have got up to 100 resumes from ByteDance. Some senior-level executives have also reached out. It is clear that TikTok is not coming back for at least four-five months. It is a complex situation to be in.”

Microsoft is looking to acquire all of TikTok’s global business, including operations in India and Europe, the Financial Times reported last week. The US company had initially said it was in negotiations with ByteDance to explore a purchase of the TikTok service in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

The Chinese company is rethinking its HR strategy, said a headhunter whose firm has business relations with it.

“ByteDance was one of the hottest companies,” he said. “No one knows what’s happening for real in that company and there is a high level of ambiguity and lack of clarity, which is making people insecure. Wherever uncertainty and stigma are attached, valuable people stay away.”

Another headhunter told ET that it had been working to fill 10-15 roles at Bytedance, all of which are now on hold. About 8-10 people at ByteDance have sent the firm their profiles, all in the Rs 40 lakh-1 crore salary bracket, the person said. They are open to working at other app makers or ecommerce and edtech companies.

TikTok parent company, ByteDance, halts hiring in India; tries to retain employees TikTok parent company, ByteDance, halts hiring in India; tries to retain employees Reviewed by TechCO on 8/12/2020 Rating: 5

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