Parent to most teenager’s favourite quarantine app TikTok, ByteDance has managed to dominate the world of social media. Its success in developing hit Apps is reflected in the company’s numbers. In the last year, it made a profit of over US$3 Billion, doubling its revenue from US$7.4 Billion to US17 billion in one year. This revenue is more than Uber, Snapchat and Twitters revenues combined. Besides TikTok, and its Chinese version, Douyin, ByteDance also operates news aggregator Toutiao and a messaging App like WeChat called Feishu.
The company, which is valued at US$110 Billion, has over 1.5 billion monthly active users for all its Apps, with TikTok having 115 Million downloads in March alone. ByteDance is present in over 150 markets and has offices in 126 cities globally. It also has 15 research and development centres in different corners of the world. The global pandemic which has forced everyone to practice social distancing and self-isolation has cemented ByteDance’s position as Chinas first global software giant.
This growth and success is set to continue with the announcement of a new COO and TikTok CEO, Kevin Mayer, who spearheaded the rollout of Disney’s video-streaming service Disney+ which has since been a success in the regions it is available.
On the 30th of March, Tiger Global Management announced that it had increased its stake in the company, having purchased shares over the past 21 months for an undisclosed amount. At the top of the year, ByteDance acquired Baikemy.com one of Chinas largest medical information portals for professionals-generated content and Level-up, an artificial intelligence start-up that focuses on the creation of video games. Last month, the company co-led a US16 Million funding round with Global Founders Capital in the Financial AI start-up Lingxi.
ByteDance’s success, however, has been met with hostility from the US government. The government has launched an investigation into the company’s acquisition of Musical.ly which has played a significant role in the success of TikTok. In addition to this, two Republican senators introduced a bill banning the App from all government devices. This follows claims from the government that Bytedance was leaking data acquired from US users to foreign governments. Moreover, the App has been also accused of injecting impressionable Western teenagers with communist propaganda.
Zhang Yiming, founder, and CEO of ByteDance made his willingness to comply with US regulations clear and has since tailored the company’s business model to meet the government’s demands. Nonetheless, with everyone stuck at home and on the internet, ByteDance’s influence is guaranteed to increase this year.