TikTok commits billion of dollars to Southeast Asia market: CEO
Shou Zi Chew says TikTok is ready to expand its operations and invest billions of dollars in Southeast Asia as it looks to strengthen non-Western markets.
TikTok announced its intention to invest billions of dollars in Southeast Asia in the coming years, according to TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew.
TikTok aims to strengthen its presence in this region due to the uncertainty of its future in other markets especially after being constantly investigated for "data security concerns."
With a population of 630 million, half of whom are under 30, Southeast Asia represents one of TikTok's largest user bases. However, despite its vast number of users, TikTok has struggled to generate significant e-commerce revenue in the region. The platform faces tough competition from established players like Sea's Shopee, Alibaba's Lazada, and GoTo's Tokopedia. To address this, TikTok plans to diversify its content and expand beyond advertising into e-commerce. It aims to enable users to make purchases through links on the app during live streaming.
"We're going to invest billions of dollars in Indonesia and Southeast Asia over the next few years," said Shou Zi Chew at a forum it organized in Jakarta, Indonesia.
He highlighted the growing number of users and the expansion of e-commerce capabilities on the platform. In Indonesia alone, TikTok has 8,000 employees and 2 million small vendors utilizing the app to sell their products and merchandise.
The decision to invest in Southeast Asia comes at a time when TikTok faces scrutiny from governments and regulators alleging that the Chinese government has or will have access to users' data.
Some countries, such as France, the UK, and Australia, have banned the app on government devices.
TikTok has repeatedly denied sharing data with the Chinese government and emphasized that it would not comply with such requests while adding that such bans were "rooted in xenophobia."
While TikTok has not faced major bans on government devices in Southeast Asia, it has faced scrutiny regarding its content in certain countries. In 2018, Indonesia briefly banned TikTok due to concerns about explicit and blasphemous posts. Similarly, in Vietnam, regulators expressed concerns about the platform's "toxic" content and initiated an investigation into TikTok's operations in the country, citing a threat to youth, culture, and tradition.
#TikTok’s CEO, Shou Zi Chew, addressed 150 million #American users, assuring them that the video-sharing platform is all about conversations and community after testifying in front of the US #Congress.— Al Mayadeen English (@MayadeenEnglish) April 19, 2023
He stressed that TikTok is responsible for protecting the large number of #US… pic.twitter.com/S9Ov9T8mEw