TikTok’s parent company isn’t the first Chinese firm to reportedly cancel its IPO plans – but it may get to avoid the public embarrassment Jack Ma faced

Zhang yiming net worth bytedance tiktok 4x3
ByteDance CEO & cofounder Zhang Yiming. Visual China Group via Getty Images; Ruobing Su/Business Insider
  • Bytedance was reportedly planning on going public before China told it to focus on its data security risks.
  • The TikTok parent company then reportedly paused its listing plans as China continues its Big Tech crackdown.
  • The reported move could save Bytedance and its CEO from the tribulations Jack Ma and his Ant Group saw recently.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

TikTok’s parent company was planning on taking some parts of its business public, the Wall Street Journal reports, but those efforts ground to a halt after Chinese regulators advised the company to focus on potential data security risks.

A Bytedance representative told Insider that it does not comment on speculation and pointed Insider to comments that the company made in April denying rumors it planned to publicly list its stock.

That lack of any public stock offering efforts could help save the company from the ire of Chinese officials who currently seem hell-bent on cracking down on Big Tech. At least if Jack Ma’s pulled Ant Group IPO last year is any indication.

China had only just kicked off a more aggressive affront to Big Tech when Ma’s October listing plans were caught in the thicket. It didn’t help that Ma very publicly scoffed at how China regulates the financial sector.

What followed was a very public crackdown of Ma when the government yanked his IPO before it could even take off.

Ma disappeared from the public eye so thoroughly that some outlets reported he could be missing, as other Chinese businessmen have in the past after disagreeing with lawmakers. But an Alibaba executive told CNBC in June that Ma is simply “lying low right now.”

The nation has only tightened its grip on homegrown tech giants since zeroing in on Ma and Ant. It fined Alibaba, which Ma founded, $2.8 billion in April over concerns that it was abusing its monopoly power in the online market.

Overall, China seems to be sending a very strong message to tech companies within its borders, a message that Bytedance may have taken seriously.