How ByteDance Became the Worlds Most Valuable Startup

what is byte dance

But that’s only because it allows for the banning of almost anything that has a tie to a foreign country. Citing it as merely a TikTok ban buries the much more damning (and vague) language of the bill and makes it seem frivolous for anyone who doesn’t care about losing some cat videos. But, it affects everyone in the US and if it passes, we’re opening ourselves up to new possibilities of surveillance, censorship, and control. The RESTRICT Act is essentially government nationalization of the Internet and it goes after everything that contributes to individual people’s freedom and safety online.

what is byte dance

Meanwhile, smartphones began to take over and more and more people started using smartphones, and Yiming could very well see the opportunity underlying it, which made him leave to start ByteDance in 2012. Bytedance’s rise in China has not been without conflict or controversy, however. The company’s most notable achievement is in gaining its level of success without being propped up by any of the country’s internet mega-giants like Tencent, Alibaba, or Baidu.


Helo, for example, is a similar product aimed at India with support for 14 local vernaculars, and TopBuzz does a similar thing in English. But so far, its highest-profile efforts in Western markets have focused on creative communities. The company bought short movie-making app Flipagram last year and rebranded it as Vigo Video, then followed up by acquiring to merge with its similar service Douyin. Bytedance reportedly even tried to buy Reddit in 2016, but it was rebuffed. Increased scrutiny and the potential of a ban also could raise a tit-for-tat that leads other countries to ban U.S.-based apps and businesses, out of fear the U.S. government may have access to data they collect. It also might deter foreign companies from expanding in America, if they also do business in China, out of concerns they may get either caught in a tug of war or find themselves banned.

It’ll need to look out for similar competition abroad, of course. TikTok recently attained the traditional social network rite of passage of having Facebook brazenly rip it off. And Bytedance’s news services inevitably risk running into the same algorithmic pitfalls that have plagued Facebook for years; the company’s apps have been accused of spreading fake news in countries such as India and beyond.

Despite this reassurance, the U.S. state of Montana passed a law to ban the app in the state. Southeast Asia has been the focus for Chinese tech companies that are trying to hedge against slower economic umarkets review growth at home. In 2016, the company became a controlling shareholder of BaBe (Baca Berita), an Indonesian news aggregator that claims to have had more than 30 million downloads as of 2019.

  1. After OpenAI launched the video generator Sora in mid-February, ByteDance said its in-house video motion control tool Boximator, which is designed to help generate videos, is still in infancy and not ready for public release.
  2. The company also developed the Indian social media app Hello, as well as the popular Indonesian news aggregator Baca Berita (BaBe).
  3. In serving ads that are highly relevant to a user’s interests, Toutiao in many ways acts as a product discovery mechanism.
  4. These documents and records show that “green channel” requests for information about U.S. employees have pulled that data from mainland China.

The economy in Europe is very developed, and in your country there is no economy. For the average citizen, for citizens of Germany or France, they have almost zero opportunity to go up in the social class. In short, TikTok does a few things to grow the hard side of their platform. How far and wide you go are then all added to your data profile, helping the algorithm curate your feed even further to your known (and unknown) interests.

ByteDance dives into multi-modal digital human AI products: report

Most of the time, because of their ecosystem of news and entertainment aggregation products—and being dubbed China’s Content King— they’re considered a (social) media company. In early February, ByteDance unveiled Boximator, a video motion control tool to assist in video generation, but the company said the technology was still in its infancy and not powertrend ready for general release. “It still has a big gap with leading video generation models in terms of image quality, fidelity and duration,” a company representative said. Alex Zhu, co-founder of the short video app that later merged with TikTok, and Zhu Wenjia, tech lead at TikTok, have also adjusted their responsibilities to focus on AI.

what is byte dance

Much of TikTok’s popularity came from viral videos that were shared by Internet influencers and social media stars who had millions of followers. TikTok’s popularity also increased considerably during the COVID-19 bitfinex vs bitmex pandemic, as millions of housebound social media users turned to their phones for entertainment. In 2020 ByteDance released CapCut, a video-editing software with more than 200 million monthly active users.

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Forbes is not disclosing the nature and purpose of the planned surveillance referenced in the materials in order to protect sources. TikTok and ByteDance did not answer questions about whether Internal Audit has specifically targeted any members of the U.S. government, activists, public figures or journalists. A China-based team at TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, planned to use the TikTok app to monitor the personal location of some specific American citizens, according to materials reviewed by Forbes. To put a complicated issue simply, the US government is worried that because TikTok is a Chinese company, they are subsequently “controlled by China”.

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But the company’s global ambitions are real and so are its chances. Bytedance is the first Chinese internet company with a significant, genuinely engaged following around the world, which means it’s worthy of serious attention. The internal audit team uses a data request system known to employees as the “green channel,” according to documents and records from Lark, ByteDance’s internal office management software.

ByteDance, Chinese technology company that developed novel video-sharing social networking applications, most notably TikTok. ByteDance also serves as the parent company of several popular social media and news apps. Together these apps account for 1.5 billion monthly active users, the company says, and about 700 million daily active users. Roughly translating as “Watermelon Video,” the launched app is positioned as a platform for “professional user generated content,” or higher quality content than other user generated apps.

But the app’s success does follow a familiar pattern for Bytedance, which has demonstrated a startling ability to launch, grow, and sustain services that have users hooked. Internal materials reviewed by Forbes show that senior executives, including TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew, have ordered the team to investigate individual employees, and that it has investigated employees even after they left the company. The heads of the F.B.I. and our spy agencies fear that the Chinese government will force TikTok’s owner, ByteDance, to hand over the extensive personal information of the app’s American users or demand that it push disinformation. Now, while the next section of growth factors is closely tied to product growth, I think it’s deserving of its own section. In Why Vine Died, we saw how Vine lost focus on the most important side of their platform — the creators.

Sustainable word-of-mouth growth is probably the gold standard when it comes to a growth engine for your business. A variable reward—for the non-psych folks like myself—is a gratification token used in the Hook Model, delivered intermittently, meant to keep users repeating the same action in the hope of another reward. It’s a reward system powerful for driving attention, focus, and repeated action.

ByteDance dives into multi-modal digital human AI products: report

what is byte dance

TikTok also reduces friction for creators by stimulating creativity. I imagine one of the biggest hurdles in getting someone to post their first video, is simply addressing the question, “What should I make? Together, these forces have made TikTok the best destination for millions of creators around the world to come and build an audience. Which, as we’ll get to in a minute, drives an essential flywheel.

In previous eras, most of the spoils went to the platform’s earliest adopters – mining value gets harder as the platform ages. TikTok, on the other hand, promotes all content regardless of who made it or how many followers [social capital] they have. But one of TikTok’s most valuable hooks is that anyone does actually stand a shot at being seen. This means there’s a greater window of opportunity for people with compelling content to get popular, fast. AKA—TikTok did a great job at distributing their brand across well-established networks where their users were hanging out. Unlike going to Substack to catch up on some newsletters (which as you know by reading mine, takes time) — TikTok unlocks rapid dopamine hits.

The app has been downloaded nearly 80 million times in the US, with even the likes of Jimmy Fallon giving it high-profile endorsements. Although it hasn’t happened yet, it’s easy to see how China could commandeer the powerfully influential app to affect elections or manipulate public opinion, with especially pernicious effects in a time of crisis. Two out of three American teenagers  have used TikTok, so disinformation on the app could be particularly potent for that impressionable audience. There’s no better evidence of why a government might fear the app’s insidious nature than the fact that TikTok is banned in China itself. Instead, the Chinese government lets ByteDance use a limited domestic version of the app that’s explicitly subject to state censorship.

“It still has a big gap with leading video generation models in terms of image quality, fidelity and duration,” the company said. After OpenAI launched the video generator Sora in mid-February, ByteDance said its in-house video motion control tool Boximator, which is designed to help generate videos, is still in infancy and not ready for public release. Despite its early embrace of AI in content recommendation, ByteDance was relatively late in exploring LLMs. The company launched its chatbots Doubao and Cici AI in the second half of last year, after rivals Baidu and Alibaba Group Holding, owner of the Post, already rolled out their services in March and April. ByteDance, China’s highest valued unicorn, is widely seen as a successful case of a business using machine learning algorithms to recommend content to viewers.

  1. But, a huge part of TikTok’s beauty (which we’ll get more into) is how the feed is driven by meritocracy and discovery, and not followers and search.
  2. We believe at ByteDance that high ethical standards and a culture of integrity play a pivotal role throughout the development of the company.
  3. Similar to Topbuzz, the app also has not gained much traction in the US.
  4. In January, ByteDance chief executive Liang Rubo berated employees for being too slow to react to the emergence of new technologies such as generative AI.

Available in 14 Indian languages including Hindi and Marathi, the India-based app offers users a wide range of short videos, jokes, and entertainment news. To better compete with ShareChat, Helo is reportedly introducing English content and aims to double its 50 million monthly active users by the end of last year. At just 10 years old, ByteDance, the most valuable startup in the world, has shattered records for growth. In 2021, with 1.9 billion monthly active users in 150 countries, and an employee base of over 110,000, the company recorded an astonishing $58 billion in revenues.

In 2018, ByteDance hit the lower end of its revenue target of 50 billion to 55 billion yuan ($7.2 billion to $7.9 billion), according to a Bloomberg report. The company lost $1.2 billion last year, reported digital media firm The Information. The app’s users spent approximately $5.5 million globally on these coins in February, an increase of about 243% from an estimated $1.6 million worth in February 2018, according to data from app analytics firm Sensor Tower.

Douyin: integrating social elements into news feeds and ads

Bytedance is, in fact, locked in a fierce rivalry with Tencent, in particular. Zhang and Tencent founder Pony Ma have jabbed at each other in public, and the companies have filed multiple lawsuits against one another. In the most recent clash this summer, Bytedance accused Tencent of blocking TikTok videos from its platforms, including dominant messaging app WeChat; Tencent retorted by suing Bytedance for libel and anti-competitive practices.

what is byte dance

However with over 220 million users, Zhihu has maintained its status over Wukong as the largest Chinese Q&A forum. The success of Toutiao has pitted ByteDance into a pitched battle with social media and gaming giant Tencent, parent of the WeChat messaging app, another popular source of news from both publications and self-published authors. The rivalry has taken the form of a number canadian forex review of tit-for-tat lawsuits spanning allegations from copyright violations to defamation. ByteDance is not the first tech giant to have considered using an app to monitor specific U.S. users. In 2017, the New York Times reported that Uber had identified various local politicians and regulators and served them a separate, misleading version of the Uber app to avoid regulatory penalties.

Paid acquisition to kickstart a network

According to Baker-White, this misuse of data included spying on her and other users’ IP addresses in an attempt to track an internal mole at the company who was thought to be in contact with reporters. Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced that they had begun an investigation in late 2022 fbs broker review into the claim against ByteDance. It also has others like TopBuzz, a platform that recommends trending videos and articles to users, and BaBe, a news aggregation app in Indonesia. Bytedance believes that its algorithmic approach to content could work around the world, and it has developed Toutiao-like apps for other markets.

what is byte dance

TikTok users, including their phone numbers, birthdays and draft videos. This effort is central to the company’s national security negotiations with CFIUS. Perhaps the company’s most famous app is Douyin which was launched in 2016.

Content platforms

These documents and records show that “green channel” requests for information about U.S. employees have pulled that data from mainland China. So, similar to Notion’s template strategy, TikTok helps remove this kind of creative obstacle through topic marketing. Basically, they promote and launch hashtags that serve as trending topics or themes on the platform.

The company has more than 150,000 employees and operates offices worldwide. China’s Big Tech firms have been working on similar technologies, including ByteDance’s PixelDance introduced in November 2023, and Tencent Holdings’ VideoCrafter, but neither can compare to Sora’s capabilities in video generation. OpenAI’s text-to-video model Sora, released on February 16, opened a new front in AI competition, as tech giants allocate more resources to the next generation of applications. One source close to ByteDance, who requested anonymity to discuss internal matters, said that people who hold major sway at the company, including founder Zhang, now view AI as a battle that ByteDance cannot afford to lose. However, a spokesperson for ByteDance said that it is not working on a smartphone — but it is developing other hardware related to education.

The forces behind Toutiao’s incredible growth

For example, users have accused the company of deleting articles on BaBe that were critical of the Chinese government. In 2019 TikTok user Feroza Aziz’s account was suspended after she posted a video coinmama exchange criticizing the Chinese government’s mass detention of Uyghur Muslims. A ByteDance spokesman initially claimed that Aziz was suspended because of a previous offense that violated TikTok’s policies.

The main source of income for TikTok is through in-app purchases. Users can buy virtual currency which they then gift to content creators. Launched in the same year as Douyin, the app was originally named “Huoshan Xiaoshipin” and focuses on videos lasting only around 15 seconds. ByteDance merged Huoshan with Douyin (link in Chinese) in early January, saying the two would continue to operate as independent entities but their content would be shared on each other’s platforms.