After shutting operations in India last year, the Chinese tech major TikTok India saw former company CEO Nikhil Gandhi parting ways from TikTok global operations. Nikhil who was recently redesignated by the Chinese company as the head for the Middle East, Africa, Turkey & South Asia, has resigned nearly a year after India banned the Chinese short video app citing sovereignty and national security issues.
TikTok is owned by ByteDance Inc, the world’s most valuable startup. According to top sources, Gandhi, who was working closely with top company management to sell TikTok’s India business in the past few months, is currently evaluating options with some leading Indian startups looking to scale operations, especially with an AI/ML component.
Gandhi had joined TikTok in October 2019 from Times Network. Under his leadership, TikTok started generating Rs 20-25 crore in advertising revenue by the July-September quarter of 2019. He also played a key part in bringing Bollywood actors – including Deepika Padukone and Jacqueline Fernandes – to the popular platform. Industry experts believe that TikTok would have garnered Rs 200-250 crore revenue in FY20.
According to ByteDance founder Zhang Yiming, Gandhi was hired to unroll the company’s $1 billion mega plans for India. The company was asked to shut its business by the Union government in June 2020 citing national security. At the time, the Chinese app had more than 200 million users in India.
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology TikTok banned 59 Chinese apps, including TikTok on 29 June 2020. The ban was made permanent in January 2021.