TikTok exceeds 100 million monthly users in Europe as US sale deadline looms
  • Video app TikTok said on Monday it had surpassed 100 million monthly users in Europe.
  • The company also has 1,600 employees in Europe.
  • The numbers come as TikTok’s fate hangs in the balance in the US, with President Trump stating the app must sell its US business by Tuesday or face a ban.
  • TikTok’s most senior European exec Rich Waterworth told BI it had “been growing really well for a long time” in the region.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

TikTok has “more than 100 million” monthly active users across Europe, according to a blog post by Rich Waterworth, the company’s European general manager.

In an exclusive interview with Business Insider on Sunday, Waterworth said user numbers had “been growing really well for a long time.”

“You don’t get to 100 million without growing consistently and strongly for a long period of time,” he said. “We saw during lockdown people were using the platform in different ways.”

Waterworth said there were changes in user growth during the coronavirus lockdown, “but you’re looking at a sustained, long period of growth over the last two years.”

Growth was focused in the largest business markets of Europe, Waterworth said, but he declined to provide country-level user numbers.

The numbers were released ahead of a key week for the app’s future in the US, which accounts for around 100 million of its nearly 690 million monthly active users.

President Trump has threatened to shut down the app on Tuesday if a sale is not agreed to offload the company’s US arm to an American buyer.

However, Trump’s timescales appear not to be supported by an executive order, which gives TikTok until September 20 to reach a deal — a date that itself is in doubt following a second executive order giving the ability to extend the deadline until November 12.

“TikTok’s numbers don’t surprise me at all and speak to the immense virality and growth they saw during lockdown,” said Timothy Armoo, founder of Fanbytes, a UK-based TikTok-focused agency. “The beauty of TikTok — and of course its algorithm — is that content is so tailored to you that even at such scale they’re able to maintain that true personalization, which I expect to be a catalyst for future growth.”

At the same time, the company announced two other metrics demonstrating showing its growth in Europe.

Updated staff headcount numbers, which Business Insider has previously reported on, show that TikTok’s European employee count has grown from last reported figures of 1,000 in Europe, published earlier this year, to 1,600 today.

All but 300 of those employees are based in the UK and Ireland — the two countries believed to be the frontrunners for TikTok’s European headquarters, and by definition, the logical base for the company outside the United States.

Ireland is home to TikTok’s European data privacy team, with the company’s trust and safety hub for Europe, the Middle East and Africa based in Dublin. A further $500 million of investment in a European data center is planned for Ireland by 2022.

Waterworth said the focus on data and safety in Ireland was due to the country’s pre-existing expertise in the field – though he added Brexit played a role in the decision.

“Post-Brexit, it’s very important to have a center in the EU,” he said. “But fundamentally it’s about where can we build the best team.”

Waterworth as TikTok’s European head is based in London, which has been mooted as the base for the company in the event of a US ban.

London is home to the company’s monetization, sales, creator partnership and product teams, as well as major marketing and communication arms.

In an interview with The Observer last month, Waterworth declined to comment on plans for the company’s non-US headquarters.

“Europe is a major part of TikTok,” Waterworth told Business Insider. “Europe is a really really important region, and as you know, we take a market-led approach at TikTok.

“We intentionally have built up strong, cross-functional teams and strong leadership teams in the key markets and ask those teams to look at the specific challenges and needs of those markets,” he said. “That’s what we’re doing across Europe. Europe is an important and valuable market.”

TikTok also revealed that 40% of creators eligible for its $300 million Creator Fund in Europe, which was announced in late July and started paying out on September 1, had signed up to the scheme.

Waterworth declined to share how that compared to uptake of the US fund.

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