|Type||Privately held company|
|Zhang Yiming, Chairman & CEO |
Chew Shou Zi, CFO
Roland Cloutier, global CSO
Erich Andersen, global GC
|Revenue||US$37 billion, (2020)|
Number of employees
ByteDance Ltd. (Chinese: 字节跳动; pinyin: Zìjié Tiàodòng) is a Chinese multinational internet technology company headquartered in Beijing and legally domiciled in the Cayman Islands. It was founded by Zhang Yiming in 2012.
ByteDance is the developer of the video-sharing social networking services and apps TikTok and Douyin, the Chinese-specific counterpart to TikTok. On November 9, 2017, ByteDance acquired Shanghai-based social media start-up Musical.ly for up to US$1 billion. They combined it with prior acquisition, Flipagram and TikTok on August 2, 2018 into a single global application, keeping the TikTok name.
ByteDance also developed Toutiao ("Headlines"), which began as a news recommendation engine and evolved into a platform delivering content in various formats, such as texts, images, question-and-answer posts, microblogs, and videos.
As of November 2018, ByteDance had over 800 million daily active users (over 1 billion accumulated users) across all of its content platforms.[needs update] The company has been estimated to be valued at over $250 billion as of March 2021. ByteDance has garnered public attention over allegations that it worked with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to censor and surveil content pertaining to Xinjiang internment camps and other topics the CCP deemed controversial.
Zhang Yiming is the Chairman and CEO of ByteDance.
On 19 May 2020, ByteDance and Disney released an announcement that Kevin Mayer, head of Disney's streaming business, would join ByteDance. From June 2020 to his resignation 26 August 2020, Mayer served as the CEO of TikTok and the COO of ByteDance, reporting directly to the company CEO Zhang Yiming.
In March 2012, ByteDance launched its first app called Neihan Duanzi (内涵段子). This app allowed users to circulate jokes, memes, and humorous videos. At its peak, Neihan Duanzi had over 200 million users in 2017.
On 10 April 2018, ByteDance permanently sunsetted Neihan Duanzi, as the National Radio and Television Administration accused Neihan Duanzi of hosting "vulgar" and "improper" content and "triggering strong sentiments of resentment among internet users". In response to Neihan Duanzi's shutdown, founder Zhang Yiming issued a letter stating that the app was "incommensurate with socialist core values" and promised that ByteDance would "further deepen cooperation" with the authorities to promote their policies. Following the shutdown, ByteDance announced that it would give preference to Chinese Communist Party members in its hiring and increase its censors from 6,000 to 10,000 employees.
In January 2014, the company created the "Toutiaohao" (头条号) platform to attract more PGC (professionally generated content) and UGC (user generated content) creators; and later in the year, added video capabilities. Toutiao used interest-based and decentralized distribution to help long-tail content creators find an audience. An often cited example is "Zhuguan Baba" (猪倌巴巴), a young pig farmer in Northern China whose posts on how to raise pigs attracted millions of readers on Toutiao.
In February 2016, a missing person alerts project was started on the Toutiao platform. As of June 2020, the alerts have helped find 13,116 missing persons.
In August 2019, Bytedance launches Toutiao Search as a part of its Toutiao portal – a news aggregator.
In March 2016, ByteDance launched Toutiao Video, which was later rebranded as Xigua Video (西瓜视频, also known as Watermelon Video). Xigua Video is a short form video platform that hosted a variety of video clips that were on average 2–5 minutes long. The platform has since expanded to long form video.
In August 2015, ByteDance launched TopBuzz, a content platform for videos, articles, breaking news and GIFs in the U.S. and later in Brazil in 2016. ByteDance launched PGC short video platform TopBuzz Video in Japan in September 2016. In October 2016, ByteDance invested in India's largest vernacular content aggregation platform Dailyhunt. In December 2016, ByteDance invested in the Indonesian news recommendation platform BABE.
In February 2017, ByteDance acquired Flipagram. In July 2017, ByteDance launched their UGC short video platform Hypstar (Vigo Video) in Southeast Asia. In November 2017, ByteDance acquired global news app News Republic and global lip-sync video community Musical.ly. In November 2019, it was reported that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States had opened an investigation into ByteDance regarding its acquisition of Musical.ly on national security grounds after it dissipated from TikTok on August 2, 2018. The app now takes on the TikTok name.
ByteDance also started Gogokid in 2018, an online English learning platform for children that provides one-on-one classes with native English speakers.
In December 2019, ByteDance began a test release of its music streaming app, Resso, in India and Indonesia. ByteDance also launched this app in Brazil and is expecting to spread it on USA and Europe. On March 4, 2020, the company officially launched the app, which it described as a "social music streaming app". Resso allows users to highlight and share lyrics, comments and other user-generated content with each other alongside streaming of full-length tracks. The app is both available for Android and iOS. Resso says that it has licensing agreements in place with Warner Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Merlin and Beggars Group, among others.
ByteDance's research arm, the AI lab, was founded in March 2016. It is headed by Wei-Ying Ma, former assistant managing director of Microsoft Research Asia. The lab's research focuses on AI for understanding information (text, images, videos) in depth, and developing large-scale machine learning algorithms for personalized information recommendations.
In April 2021, it was announced that ByteDance has created a new division called BytePlus which will be selling the underlying platform of TikTok, so others may launch similar apps.
ByteDance has a strategic partnership with the Chinese Ministry of Public Security for the ministry's public relations efforts, and joint ventures with a state-run publisher in Beijing and media firm in Shanghai.
In December 2018, ByteDance sued Chinese technology news site Huxiu for defamation after Huxiu reported that ByteDance's Indian-language news app Helo was propagating misinformation.
US Federal Trade Commission fine
On February 27, 2019, the Federal Trade Commission fined TikTok US$5.7 million for collecting information from minors under the age of 13 in violation of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act in the United States. ByteDance later added a kids-only mode to TikTok which blocks the upload of videos, the building of user profiles, direct messaging, and commenting on other's videos, while still allowing the viewing and recording of content.
US executive orders
On 3 August 2020, U.S. president Donald Trump set September 15 as the deadline for TikTok, a social media app under ByteDance, to find a US buyer, and he then issued executive orders that would effectively ban TikTok from operating in the country if it is not sold by ByteDance within 45 days. Then at 12:40 PM of August 3, Beijing local time, ByteDance founder Zhang Yiming sent out an all-staff letter in response to the potential sale of TikTok's US operations.
On 7 August 2020, ByteDance released a statement in response to the executive order banning US companies and individuals from doing business with it, threatening to resort to the American justice system in order to get "fair treatment." On 14 August 2020, Trump issued an executive order mandating that ByteDance divest from all U.S. operations of TikTok within 90 days. On 28 August 2020, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce and the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology announced that any sale of ByteDance's technology to foreign firms is a matter of "national security" and would require prior approval.
Ban in India
Citing national security issues the Indian Government banned TikTok along with 58 other Chinese apps on June 29, 2020. The ban was made permanent in January 2021. In March 2021, the Indian government froze ByteDance's bank accounts in the country for alleged tax evasion, which ByteDance disputed.
- Feng, Venus (2019-03-29). "The complex fortune growing inside Bytedance, the world's most valuable startup". The Japan Times. Archived from the original on 2019-07-08. Retrieved 2020-06-01.
- Huang, Zheping (March 24, 2021). "ByteDance Hires Xiaomi Executive as CFO While It Weighs IPO". Bloomberg News. Archived from the original on 2021-03-25. Retrieved 2021-03-29.
- Spangler, Todd. "TikTok Hires Ex-ADP Security Chief Roland Cloutier Amid Data Privacy Scrutiny". Variety. Archived from the original on 8 October 2020. Retrieved 5 October 2020.
- Clark, Dan (24 January 2020). "Microsoft In-House Attorney to Serve as TikTok's First Global General Counsel". Corporate Counsel. Archived from the original on 9 October 2020. Retrieved 5 October 2020.
- "ByteDance's revenue doubled to $37b in 2020: sources". Archived from the original on 2021-04-21. Retrieved 2021-03-31.
- "TikTok parent ByteDance has tripled its U.S. employees in past year". Archived from the original on 2020-09-26. Retrieved 2020-09-30.
- "Bytedance company profile - Office locations, Competitors, Funding, Valuation, Financials, Employees, Key People, Subsidiaries, News". Craft.co. Archived from the original on 2019-07-08. Retrieved 2019-01-21.
- "ByteDance". Bytedance.com. Archived from the original on 2019-01-20. Retrieved 2019-01-21.
- Flora, Liz (2020-02-02). "TikTok vs. Douyin". Gartner. Archived from the original on 2020-08-13. Retrieved 2020-08-28.
- Wang, Echo; Dave, Paresh (2020-08-10). "Exclusive: Microsoft faces complex technical challenges in TikTok carveout". Reuters. Archived from the original on 2020-08-28. Retrieved 2020-08-28.
- "Chinese news reading app Toutiao acquires Flipagram". Archived from the original on 2017-02-11. Retrieved 2017-02-13.
- "More Chinese will be watching Flipagram videos". Archived from the original on 2017-08-03. Retrieved 2017-09-17.
- Osawa, Juro (2017-07-19). "How a News Startup Caught China's Tencent by Surprise". The Information. Archived from the original on 2018-05-13. Retrieved 2018-03-23.
- "This Startup Is Luring Top Talent With $3 Million Pay Packages". Bloomberg.com. 24 September 2017. Archived from the original on 8 March 2018. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
- Lahiri, Tripti (2019-03-04). "Facebook finally has a serious Chinese rival". Quartz. Archived from the original on 2019-04-13. Retrieved 2019-04-14.
- Yilun Chen, Lulu; Liu, Coco; Huang, Zheping (2021-03-30). "ByteDance Valued at $250 Billion in Private Trades". Bloomberg News. Archived from the original on 2021-03-30. Retrieved 2021-03-31.
- Fifield, Anna (November 28, 2019). "TikTok's owner is helping China's campaign of repression in Xinjiang, report finds". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on November 28, 2019. Retrieved November 28, 2019.
- Cockerell, Isobel (2020-01-24). "Xinjiang's TikTok wipes away evidence of Uyghur persecution". Coda Media. Archived from the original on 2020-06-03. Retrieved 2020-07-02.
- Potkin, Fanny (2020-08-13). "Exclusive: ByteDance censored anti-China content in Indonesia until mid-2020 - sources". Reuters. Archived from the original on 2020-08-23. Retrieved 2020-08-14.
- Ltd, ByteDance. "ByteDance Names Kevin Mayer Chief Operating Officer". www.prnewswire.com. Archived from the original on 2020-05-25. Retrieved 2020-05-21.
- Isaac, Mike (2020-08-28). "TikTok Chief Executive Kevin Mayer Resigns". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 2020-09-28. Retrieved 2020-10-01.
- Leskin, Paige. "TikTok's CEO left 3 months into the job after getting boxed out by ByteDance during TikTok's biggest moment of crisis". Business Insider. Archived from the original on 2020-09-28. Retrieved 2020-10-01.
- Wang, Yaqiu (January 24, 2020). "Targeting TikTok's privacy alone misses a larger issue: Chinese state control". Quartz. Archived from the original on March 16, 2020. Retrieved 2020-07-18.
Many companies have an internal party committee as part of their governance structure. ByteDance has one, headed by the company’s vice president Zhang Fuping, and has since 2017. Party committee members at ByteDance regularly gather to study President Xi Jinping’s speeches and pledge to follow the party in technological innovation.
- Roumeliotis, Greg (November 1, 2019). "U.S. opens national security investigation into TikTok - sources". Reuters. Archived from the original on November 2, 2019. Retrieved November 2, 2019.
- "宁静上《冒犯家族》遭"吐槽" 内涵段子app用户的神评论太犀利了". tech.ifeng.com. Archived from the original on 2019-06-18. Retrieved 2019-06-18.
- "Jokes app Neihan Duanzi shuttered by China's media regulator for 'vulgarity' | Society News". SupChina. 2018-04-12. Archived from the original on 2019-05-31. Retrieved 2019-06-18.
- Spence, Philip (January 16, 2019). "ByteDance Can't Outrun Beijing's Shadow". Foreign Policy. Archived from the original on January 16, 2019. Retrieved September 15, 2019.
- Romm, Tony; Harwell, Drew (December 5, 2019). "TikTok leader schedules Washington trip to meet with lawmakers as investigations loom". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on December 6, 2019. Retrieved December 6, 2019.
- Pham, Sherisse (2018-11-02). "Why China's tech giants are cozying up to the Communist Party". CNN. Archived from the original on 2019-05-11. Retrieved 2019-09-17.
- Fan, Jiayang (April 19, 2018). "Why China Cracked Down on the Social-Media Giant Bytedance". The New Yorker. Archived from the original on November 25, 2019. Retrieved September 16, 2019.
- Bandurski, David (May 2, 2018). "Tech Firms Tilt Toward the Party". China Media Project. Archived from the original on May 2, 2018. Retrieved September 16, 2019.
- Bischoff, Paul (2014-06-03). "The simple news reader app that's taking China by storm just netted $100 million funding from Sequoia Capital". Tech in Asia. Archived from the original on 2018-05-13. Retrieved 2018-01-12.
- Hariharan, Anu (2017-10-12). "The Hidden Forces Behind Toutiao: China's Content King". Y Combinator. Archived from the original on 2019-11-12. Retrieved 2019-11-12.
- Xueqing, Li (8 November 2016). "How a 24-Year-Old Blogger Became China's Pig Whisperer". Sixth Tone. Archived from the original on 24 January 2018. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
- Yuan, Li (2017-08-24). "The News Reads You in China—and People Can't Get Enough of It". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on 2019-04-30. Retrieved 2019-11-12.
- Jing, Meng (2018-02-15). "This migrant worker lost his 56-year-old mentally ill sibling during Lunar New Year travel crush. Toutiao helped find him". South China Morning Post. Archived from the original on 2018-03-14. Retrieved 2018-03-21.
- Saini, Jiya (2019-08-12). "Toutiao Search is online now, a search engine from ByteDance". Revyuh. Archived from the original on 2019-11-12. Retrieved 2019-11-12.
- "西瓜视频上线，今日头条视频布局呈鼎立之势" [Watermelon video is online, today's headline video layout is in a strong position]. Sohu.com. 8 June 2017. Archived from the original on 22 June 2018. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
- "ByteDance to enter long-form streaming video market". South China Morning Post. 2018-09-15. Archived from the original on 2019-12-13. Retrieved 2020-05-10.
- "2016 Chinese App Overseas Performance Report". Cheetah Data. 2016-12-13. Archived from the original on 2018-01-29. Retrieved 2018-01-12.
- "無料動画アプリTopBuzz Video コンテンツ提供者を募集". japan.cnet.com. Archived from the original on 2018-05-12. Retrieved 2018-01-12.
- Russel, Jon (2017-11-10). "Ambitious new media firm ByteDance is no longer a secret outside of China – TechCrunch". TechCrunch. Archived from the original on 2018-01-02. Retrieved 2018-01-12.
- "Toutiao Pushes Short Video Business Globalization With USD1 Billion Musical.ly Takeover". Yicai Global. Archived from the original on 2018-05-07. Retrieved 2018-01-12.
- "Toutiao, a Chinese news app that's making headlines". The Economist. 2017-11-18. Archived from the original on 2019-12-08. Retrieved 2019-11-12.
- "文化"走出去"的方式有很多 短视频应用出海成小潮流" [There are many ways to "go global" for culture, short video applications are becoming a trend]. new.qq.com. Archived from the original on 2020-08-23. Retrieved 2018-01-12.
- Spangler, Todd (10 November 2017). "Beijing's ByteDance Steps Up Global Video and Entertainment Profile With Musical.ly Buy, Live.me Funding". Variety. Archived from the original on 10 February 2018. Retrieved 29 January 2018.
- Harwell, Drew; Romm, Tony (November 1, 2019). "U.S. government investigating TikTok over national security concerns". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on November 2, 2019. Retrieved November 2, 2019.
- Jing, Meng (2017-11-10). "China's Toutiao buys teen-favourite video creation app Musical.ly". South China Morning Post. Archived from the original on 2019-11-14. Retrieved 2019-11-12.
- Finney, Richard (August 24, 2020). "English-Language News App Censored Tibet, Dalai Lama References". Radio Free Asia. Archived from the original on August 25, 2020. Retrieved August 24, 2020.
- "Bytedance tests music-streaming app Resso in India and Indonesia". Archived from the original on 2020-04-08. Retrieved 2020-03-10.
- "TikTok founder launches Spotify rival". The Independent. 2019-12-16. Archived from the original on 2020-07-08. Retrieved 2020-08-17.
- "Resso, ByteDance's music streaming app, officially launches in India, sans Tencent-backed Universal Music". TechCrunch. Archived from the original on 2020-08-23. Retrieved 2020-03-10.
- "TikTok music app, Resso, available in beta for Android, iOS users in India: How it works". The Indian Express. 2019-12-13. Archived from the original on 2019-12-31. Retrieved 2020-08-17.
- Tagat, Anurag (2020-03-04). "TikTok Owner ByteDance Launches Resso App in India, Taking on Spotify". Variety. Archived from the original on 2020-04-06. Retrieved 2020-03-10.
- Huang, Zheping (April 24, 2020). "China Orders TikTok Owner ByteDance to Remove Work-From-Home App". Bloomberg News. Archived from the original on April 24, 2020. Retrieved April 24, 2020.
- Feng, Emily (2017-05-09). "Toutiao touts AI for individual news in vast China market". The Financial Times. Archived from the original on 2019-09-22. Retrieved 2019-11-12.
- Knight, Will (2017-01-26). "This Chinese media giant is using machine learning to go after Facebook's lunch". MIT Technology Review. Archived from the original on 2020-08-23. Retrieved 2018-01-12.
- "China's tech giants test way around Apple's new privacy rules". Financial Times. March 16, 2021. Archived from the original on March 18, 2021. Retrieved March 19, 2021.
- Gurman, Mark (2021-03-19). "Apple Warns Against Unauthorized Tracking After China Workaround". Bloomberg News. Archived from the original on 2021-03-19. Retrieved 2021-03-19.
- "ByteDance's New BytePlus Division Is Selling TikTok's Underlying Tech". Business Insider. 2021-04-29. Archived from the original on 2021-04-29. Retrieved 2021-04-29.
- "全国公安新媒体矩阵入驻今日头条、抖音仪式在京举行 (A Ceremony is held in Beijing for the Ministry of Public Security's 'New Media Matrix' Launching an Account in Toutiao and Douyin)". Sohu (in Chinese). April 25, 2019. Archived from the original on 2020-08-11. Retrieved 2020-08-11.
- "Bytedance teams up with a state-run Chinese publisher". The Economist. 2019-12-21. ISSN 0013-0613. Archived from the original on December 21, 2019. Retrieved 2019-12-22.
- Galbraith, Andrew; Yang, Yingzhi (December 14, 2019). "ByteDance unit establishes venture with Chinese state media firm". Reuters. Archived from the original on December 22, 2019. Retrieved December 22, 2019.
- "TikTok Owner ByteDance Acquires Moonton and Mobile Legends: Bang Bang". IGN Southeast Asia. 2021-03-22. Archived from the original on 2021-03-22. Retrieved 2021-03-22.
- Anne, Melissa. "TikTok owner (ByteDance) is buying Mobile Legends creators (Moonton) for $4 billion - MEGPlay". Archived from the original on 2021-04-18. Retrieved 2021-03-22.
- Liao, Rita (2018-12-19). "TikTok parent ByteDance sues Chinese news site that exposed fake news problem". TechCrunch. Archived from the original on 2019-03-02. Retrieved 2019-03-01.
- "Video Social Networking App Musical.ly Agrees to Settle FTC Allegations That it Violated Children's Privacy Law". Federal Trade Commission. 26 February 2019. Archived from the original on 4 November 2019. Retrieved 3 November 2019.
- Lieber, Chavie (28 February 2019). "TikTok has been illegally collecting children's data". Vox. Archived from the original on 31 August 2019. Retrieved 1 March 2019.
- Lee, Dami (2019-02-27). "TikTok stops young users from uploading videos after FTC settlement". The Verge. Archived from the original on 2019-02-28. Retrieved 2019-02-27.
- "Trump Signs Executive Order That Will Effectively Ban Use Of TikTok In the U.S." NPR.org. Archived from the original on 2020-08-09. Retrieved 2020-08-10.
- Nikki Carvajal and Caroline Kelly. "Trump issues orders banning TikTok and WeChat from operating in 45 days if they are not sold by Chinese parent companies". CNN. Archived from the original on 2020-08-10. Retrieved 2020-08-10.
- "[Exclusive] Zhang Yiming's Full Internal Letter: ByteDance 'Understands' US Decision, Still Aspires to Become Transformative Global Company". Pandaily. 2020-08-03. Archived from the original on 2020-08-07. Retrieved 2020-08-10.
- "TikTok threatens legal action against Trump US ban". BBC News. 2020-08-07. Archived from the original on 2020-08-09. Retrieved 2020-08-10.
- Chen, Caiwei (2020-08-07). "TikTok Owner ByteDance Threatens to Sue Trump Administration as US Calls for Broader Ban of Chinese Tech". Pandaily. Archived from the original on 2020-08-23. Retrieved 2020-08-10.
- Fischer, Sara (August 15, 2020). "Trump tightens screws on ByteDance to sell Tiktok". Axios. Archived from the original on August 15, 2020. Retrieved August 15, 2020.
- Mozur, Paul; Zhong, Raymond; McCabe, David (2020-08-29). "TikTok Deal Is Complicated by New Rules From China Over Tech Exports". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 2020-08-29. Retrieved 2020-08-29.
- Singh, Manish (June 29, 2020). "India bans TikTok, dozens of other Chinese apps". TechCrunch. Archived from the original on 2 August 2020. Retrieved 3 August 2020.
- Singh, Kanishka (2021-01-25). "India to impose permanent ban on 59 Chinese apps, including TikTok - Indian media". Reuters. Archived from the original on 2021-01-26. Retrieved 2021-01-25.
- Reuters, Kate Duffy. "ByteDance is cutting down its 2,000-person team in India, where TikTok is still banned". Business Insider. Archived from the original on 2021-01-27. Retrieved 2021-01-27.
- Kalra, Aditya; Roy, Abhirup (2021-03-30). "India blocks bank accounts of China's ByteDance, company mounts challenge". Reuters. Archived from the original on 2021-03-30. Retrieved 2021-03-31.