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TikTok's Unexpected Layoffs Leave Staff Shocked as US Ban Looms

One worker who requested anonymity said, "I was just getting into a groove with my team on a project I was really excited about. They blindsided us.”
PUBLISHED JUN 3, 2024
Cover Image Source: The TikTok logo is displayed outside a TikTok office | Getty Images | Photo by Mario Tama
Cover Image Source: The TikTok logo is displayed outside a TikTok office | Getty Images | Photo by Mario Tama

ByteDance-owned TikTok, which has roughly 38,000 employees across the globe, has reportedly begun a large round of layoffs. As per Business Insider, TikTok began laying off employees last week across its operations and marketing teams. Laid of staffers expressed that they felt "blindsided" by the move as earlier they were instructed to work normally amid Washington's political attacks, and a looming US ban.

Photo illustration, of the TikTok app displayed on an iPhone screen | Getty Images | Photo illustration by Joe Raedle
Photo illustration of the TikTok app displayed on an iPhone screen | Getty Images | Photo illustration by Joe Raedle

Last month, The Information reported that TikTok is planning to completely disband its global operations teams that handle user support, communications, content, and marketing. While TikTok didn’t confirm the development, employees told media outlets that layoffs were imminent. As per the Business Insider, TikTok seems to have begun the execution of the planned layoffs. Several laid-off staffers expressed that the cuts felt sudden.

Talking to the Business Insider, one worker who requested anonymity said, "I was just getting into a groove with my team on a project I was really excited about. They blindsided us.” Meanwhile, another ex-employee described the layoffs as "an abrupt end to a very chaotic ride."



TikTok’s plan to trim staff was leaked to The Information last week and company executives Adam Presser and Zenia Mucha also confirmed it in a memo to staff on May 22. Since then, about 150 workers have been laid off across countries including the US, the UK, Brazil, and France, per the four let-go staffers who communicated with other impacted employees.



While major tech companies including Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and more have led the charge of layoffs this year, TikTok remained relatively silent. The company last cut jobs, about 60, in sales and advertising across the US in January as part of its “routine reorganization” , as per Forbes. Apart from this, ByteDance slashed jobs in November 2023 in its gaming division, Nuverse.

Earlier this year, Congress approved a bill that gave ByteDance two options, one to disinvest and sell TikTok to a US-based company or see the app get banned in the U.S. Not agreeing to the conditions, the company said that it would challenge the bill in court.

On April 24, President Biden signed the bill to ban TikTok in the US into legislation. The statute gave ByteDance nine months to divest from the app with a potential 90-day extension which the President could grant if he were satisfied with the company’s progress.



However, last month, TikTok filed a lawsuit against the legislation which could possibly delay the ban or disinvestment. The lawsuit claimed that the law is unconstitutional as it violated the First Amendment rights, the free speech rights of 170 million Americans. Along with TikTok, a group of its prominent users also filed a lawsuit challenging the law, per CBS.

Late last month, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit fast-tracked the oral arguments over the case sometime in September this year. In its lawsuit against the Justice Department, ByteDance has requested the court to block enforcement of the rule.

Participants hold signs in support of TikTok outside the U.S. Capitol Building | Getty Images | Photo by Anna Moneymaker
Participants hold signs in support of TikTok outside the U.S. Capitol Building | Getty Images | Photo by Anna Moneymaker

However, the ruling of the Appeals Court is not expected to be the end of the story. Experts told NBC that whichever side loses is likely to request a review by the U.S. Supreme Court, dragging the matter further for some time.

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