Beijing-based ByteDance extended its global influence last month, with TikTok and its Chinese sister Douyin retaining their position as the most downloaded non-gaming apps amid a stalled initial public offering, a business reorganisation, and the retreat of its founder Zhang Yiming from the boardroom. The latest data compiled by app tracking company Sensor Tower found that TikTok and Douyin jointly had 57 million downloads worldwide in October. Douyin, which is only available in China, contributed 17 per cent of the new installations, while users in the US accounted for 11 per cent, according to the report. Instagram was No 2 with more than 56 million for the month, a 31 per cent year on year increase, the report said. Although the latest numbers for TikTok and Douyin represented a drop from the 66 million downloads in the same month last year, they still showed the extent to which the algorithm-powered short video apps remain popular worldwide despite stricter regulations in China, data scrutiny in the US, and an outright ban in India. The success of TikTok in the US is particularly noteworthy as some of the country’s lawmakers are still raising red flags about letting a company with a Beijing-based parent gather biometric identifiers and biometric information from tens of millions of American consumers. At a Senate hearing last month, TikTok’s head of public policy, Michael Beckerman, said the app does not give information to the Chinese government, and has sought to safeguard the personal data of US consumers. At the same hearing, Beckerman said TikTok considers ByteDance as part of its “corporate group”. When pressed by US Senator Ted Cruz on whether the domestic entity called Beijing ByteDance Technology, which has a former Chinese government official on its board, is also considered to be part of the “corporate group” that can access user data, Beckerman said it “has no affiliation with TikTok”. In August last year Cruz, a China hawk, was put on Beijing’s sanctions list for “meddling in Hong Kong affairs”. TikTok owner embraces shorter ‘1075’ work hours amid 996 backlash ByteDance, whose Douyin app has over 600 million daily active users in China, is also facing growing regulatory demands at home as Beijing tightens its control on the country’s booming digital economy and cross border data transfers. The draft of new internet regulations published by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) on Sunday stipulates that big tech companies setting up headquarters, research centres and operation centres overseas will need to report to regulators in China. ByteDance, the world’s most valuable start-up with a private market evaluation close to US$400 billion, announced a major corporate restructuring earlier this month which saw its algorithm-driven business divided into six units, two of which comprise TikTok and Douyin. Under the reorganisation, Chew Shou Zi, the former Xiaomi executive who was appointed TikTok’s CEO in May, will relinquish his dual role as ByteDance’s finance chief to focus on TikTok. The other four units are work collaboration unit Lark, business service unit BytePlus, gaming unit Nuverse, and education technology unit Dali Education, said ByteDance co-founder and new CEO Liang Rubo in a memo. ByteDance founder Zhang Yiming ceded his board seat to Rubo but is expected to remain a powerful figure behind the scenes, the Post reported this month. Zhang stepped down from the CEO role in May, a month after the company put its IPO plans on hold. TikTok has faced headwinds from both Washington and Beijing since last summer, when then-US president Donald Trump threatened to ban the app unless ByteDance divested TikTok’s US business. A subsequent deal involving Oracle and Walmart was partly thwarted by a Beijing decision to review exports of key technologies, such as the algorithms empowering TikTok and Douyin. US President Joe Biden revoked the Trump-era bans on TikTok and Tencent Holdings’ messaging app WeChat in June, and directed the commerce secretary to investigate apps with ties to foreign adversaries that may pose a risk to data privacy or national security. The reprieve paved the way for TikTok to grab consumers and advertisers in the US. TikTok’s global monthly active users hit one billion at the end of September.