TikTok rival BIGO shifts servers from Hong Kong to Singapore

BIGO Technology, a rival of TikTok from ByteDance, is shifting servers from Hong Kong to Singapore in the wake of a new national security law, Reuters reported.
BIGO SingaporeHong Kong’s new national security gives China authority to demand that companies turn over user data.

“There’s a certain apprehension with what’s going on in Hong Kong. To be safe, we have decided to make sure that we relocate servers to Singapore,” Mike Ong, vice president of government relations, said.

Bigo’s biggest data centre capacity is in Singapore, along with other markets where it operates, such as India, the United States, Europe and the Middle East.

US President Donald Trump has said the United States could exert more pressure on China-owned companies after threatening to ban ByteDance’s popular short-video app TikTok over concerns about the safety of the personal data it handles.

Bigo, whose equivalent app, Likee, and live streaming app, Bigo Live, compete with TikTok, has not been named by U.S. authorities, but a senior official of the firm told Reuters it hoped “not to be caught in the crossfire.”

“The unfortunate thing is sometimes we can’t control what other people think,” Mike Ong, vice president of government relations, told Reuters in an interview at the firm’s headquarters in the city state, where it was founded in 2014.

Ong said the firm runs “totally independently” of JOYY, a U.S.-listed Chinese tech firm that bought it last year in a deal valuing Bigo at $2.1 billion.

JOYY’s chief executive, Chinese national David Li, is a co-founder and chairman of both companies.

Ong said it does not provide services in China, and has its own management, resources and infrastructure, including data centres.

Bigo said it had appealed to both Singapore and Indian governments for help in the matter. Neither immediately responded to a request for comment.

“The ownership of a company isn’t decided by where the headquarters is, but who takes the majority share,” said Xiaofeng Wang, an analyst with research firm Forrester.

If countries were to ban apps based on politics, companies would have few options even if they were separate entities from their parents with different brands, she added.

Bigo has become a major growth driver for parent JOYY. Bigo Live has seen growth of more than 30 percent in monthly active users since the start of the year, with a corresponding figure of 50 percent for Likee.

India is among Bigo’s biggest markets and the base of more than a fifth of its global staff of 5,000. Europe and North America are the firm’s fastest growing markets.