TikTok may or may not be making a deal for its U.S. operations, which the U.S. government says it will shut down over national security concerns come September 20th if its Chinese ownership is not resolved. But something that the U.S. narrative has not really addressed is that the company is still growing like a weed in other markets. Today, TikTok announced that it had hit the 100 million month active user milestone in Europe, where it has officially launched in the U.K., France, Germany, Italy, Russia and Spain.
“We’ve been humbled to see how Europe has embraced TikTok during the time we’ve been here,” said Rich Waterworth, the company’s head of Europe, in a blog post today. He also added that the Creator Fund for Europe, launched earlier this month with TikTok committing to pay out €250 million over the next three years to professional “creators” trying to make money producing video content for the app, has seen more than 40% of all eligible creators enrolling.
Notably, TikTok is putting this news out less than one month after it said it had reached 100 million users in the U.S.
The news comes at an interesting time for the company in other ways too.
It points to a kind of scale in the region that stands to become even more important for TikTok’s owner ByteDance, and specifically as a counter-balance to its future prospects in its biggest two markets. ByteDance is not only facing some tough times ahead in the U.S., but it’s also weathering some significant storms in its second-largest market, India, where the app has been banned and seems currently to have no prospective buyers or champions to get it out of that predicament.
Currently in the U.S., the company seems to have three options: the U.S. might be shut down altogether; or TikTok sells the business to another company in whole or part and relinquishes making money or using U.S. creators and audience to fuel its viral video machine; or ByteDance somehow manages to take the Trump administration to court and win to keep things operating as is or with some modifications.
All three are very painful in their own ways, making the growth and potential in Europe even more notable.
TikTok has been trying to take a “business as usual” approach to things despite all of this. In recent weeks, it has launched a number of new features both for consumers and for marketers in the U.S. and elsewhere.
They have included an expansion of its marketing tools, to expand the variety and size of advertisers who use the platform to promote their brands, and new features like Stitch, which gives a way for users to sample content from other videos and then “quoting” and sharing among users on the platform, as well as adding in new ways to post more and creating more viral videos.
The numbers also underscore an early thought experiment: What would TikTok life be like without input from the U.S. market?
So far, it’s fair to say that the U.S. TikTok explosion has been a major part of the global TikTok explosion. It has produced not just the biggest audience, but the app’s biggest stars. And if you take Facebook or any other social app as a benchmark, the U.S. would stand to become TikTok’s biggest market for advertisers and revenues over time, too.
Still, it’s very notable that the 100 million milestone in Europe was put out today of all days. In the last 24 hours, we’ve seen conflicting reports about a possible buyer — Oracle — finally nearing a deal; as well as a separate report that the Chinese government is ready to shut down the whole process.
Putting out the European numbers so close timing-wise — less than three weeks apart — to posting about 100 million users in the U.S. could be ByteDance’s way of saying that it might just have the last dance after all.