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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Brando

Tik Tok moved into Facebook's backyard and the grass may look greener for its employees

By Kassandra Escamilla, November 11, 2019

TikTok recently opened an office in Mountain View, California, in a location formerly occupied by Facebook's messaging app WhatsApp. TikTok has hired more than two dozen employees from Facebook, along with staffers from Hulu, Apple, and Google, CNBC reports.

In 2018, Facebook launched a video app called Lasso to directly compete with TikTok, which is estimated to have been downloaded fewer than 500,000 times, compared to TikTok's 500 million plus. The popular video-sharing app TikTok opened a Silicon Valley office in Mountain View, only a few minutes away from Facebook's Palo Alto headquarters, according to this report.

TikTok seems to be encroaching in on Facebook's territory figuratively and literally — it now occupies the office that Facebook's messaging app WhatsApp used to call home.

TikTok is also poaching Facebook's employees, according to CNBC, hiring dozens of former Facebook employees since 2018. One person at TikTok told CNBC that the company offers salaries up to 20% higher than Facebook's to draw experienced employees from its competitors. TikTok has also reportedly hired employees from Apple, Google, Hulu, Snap, and other tech companies during this high-growth period.

Though Facebook hasn't officially listed TikTok as a competitor in financial documents, the company seems to be aware of the growing threat from the short-form video app. In November, Facebook launched Lasso, a standalone video app that was nearly identical to TikTok. Lasso didn't take off; Sensor Tower estimates it's been downloaded 420,000 times outside China, while TikTok has more than 500 million users.

Here’s what Zuckerberg said about TikTok during the internal Q&A sessions, (emphasis mine):

"So yeah. I mean, TikTok is doing well. One of the things that’s especially notable about TikTok is, for a while, the internet landscape was kind of a bunch of internet companies that were primarily American companies. And then there was this parallel universe of Chinese companies that pretty much only were offering their services in China. And we had Tencent who was trying to spread some of their services into Southeast Asia. Alibaba has spread a bunch of their payment services to Southeast Asia. Broadly, in terms of global expansion, that had been pretty limited, and TikTok, which is built by this company Beijing ByteDance, is really the first consumer internet product built by one of the Chinese tech giants that is doing quite well around the world. It’s starting to do well in the US, especially with young folks. It’s growing really quickly in India. I think it’s past Instagram now in India in terms of scale. So yeah, it’s a very interesting phenomenon."

Facebook's Instagram also appears to be working on a TikTok competitor. Discovered by the reverse app engineer Jane Manchun Wong, the tool is expected to be called "Clips" and allow users to combine short videos and add music, mimicking TikTok.

While TikTok has nowhere near the number of daily users as Facebook, the app's parent company, ByteDance, is growing quickly. ByteDance has been described as "China's Facebook," and at $75 billion it is the highest-valued private company in the world. ByteDance launched the Chinese version of TikTok, Douyin, in 2016, and the international version under the name TikTok a year later. In late 2017, the company purchased another video-sharing app,, and combined them in August 2018. By last month, TikTok was the top free non-gaming app in the US.

Tik Tok video example- courtesy of Karolina Natalia -Tik Tok ID: @bekhuh IG:karegnat

In leaked audio published by The Verge, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg described the company's plans to compete with TikTok: "So yeah. I mean, TikTok is doing well ... we're trying to first see if we can get it to work in countries where Tik Tok is not already big before we go and compete with TikTok in countries where they are big."

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