TikTok has begun a global restructuring of the company that includes layoffs, according to five people with knowledge of the process.
The short-form video app, owned by Chinese parent company ByteDance, has rapidly expanded both its user base and workforce in recent years. Despite tensions with the Trump administration over fears that it could be a tool of the Chinese government, TikTok crossed 1 billion monthly active users in September and now has thousands of employees worldwide. Its rapid growth and success with younger users inspired Metas Instagram and Google’s YouTube to launch competing short-form video products.
But on Monday morning, some employees based in Europe were informed that their jobs were in danger and asked to expect invitations to meet with staff in the coming weeks, according to sources in the company. Some UK employees were warned that job losses would occur in a number of departments within TikTok. When U.S.-based employees began working hours later, some were informed that their roles were being eliminated.
The restructuring announced internally today includes layoffs and the closure of some vacancies, an employee said, affecting TikTok’s businesses in the US, EU and UK. Plans to expand some teams in the company have been put on hold.
One of TikTok’s earliest leaders outside of China, David Ortiz, a Snap veteran, announced on LinkedIn today that he left the company because his role was eliminated as part of “a much larger reorganization effort.”
A senior employee with knowledge of the changes did not deny that a restructuring took place with job losses. A TikTok spokesman who responded to a request for comment made this morning did not deny that firings were taking place, but did not provide a record comment at the time of publication.
TikTok joins the ranks of large tech companies and startups that have frozen hires or made layoffs in recent weeks as fears of an economic downturn have taken hold. The company recently abandoned plans to expand its live shopping platform TikTok Shop, seen as a major new source of revenue, in the US and Europe. A former TikTok employee who left the company earlier this year says the restructuring was likely related to the broader economic climate. “I do not think that what is happening here with TikTok’s layoffs is different from what is happening in the field of large technology,” says the former employee.
Another TikTok employee says the layoffs were focused on individuals and teams that managers felt did not contribute enough to the company, claiming the number of layoffs would be less than 100. Previous statements from TikTok and sources within the company suggest that it has at. at least 10,000 employees throughout the United States and Europe.
TikTok was created in 2018 after ByteDance bought the Chinese startup Musical.ly. Its rapid growth has led to the company reaching milestones such as reaching 1 billion active users, drawing political control and playing a key role in a war much faster than older social networks like Facebook. “They’ve been scaling at a speed we’ve never seen before,” said Brendan Gahan, partner and chief social officer at Mechanism, a New York marketing agency. He guesses that the restructuring will not do much to dull TikTok’s impact or popularity. “I can not imagine that a few layoffs are a sign of broader problems or something that will slow their momentum.”
Ortiz, the director who announced his departure on LinkedIn, declined to speak with WIRED. In his post, he pointed to TikTok’s short but eventful path. “Working at TikTok has been quite a trip.”