ByteDance-born for the mobile Internet














WASHINGTON-The Trump administration said on Friday that it would ban China’s mobile app WeChat. (Seekers,2019)TikTok’s US App Store shocked the Internet world in China and the U.S. This decision shocked the Internet world in China and the United States. WeChat belongs to China’s largest Internet company, Tencent, as a Chinese app. The chat software should be regulated by the US government. But people have to curiously ask, as a video software, Tiktok, how to obtain user data in the United States, and the background of the company behind Tiktok-Bytedance. According to AppTrace, TikTok jumped from 269th to 4th in global app download rank in February 2019. (Businessofapps,2020)An Internet company with a private business background in China, how did Bytedance promote TikTok to the international market and get Western recognition? I will explore the growth of Byte Dance as a billion dollar company and analyze how Tiktok contributed towards Byte Dance reaching the worth of over US $100 billion in less than eight years of its launch. In the first part of this article, I will elaborate on the development of Bytedance Process and the core technology of this Internet company. In the second part, I will take the Tiktok incident as an example. I will discuss the security concerns of American politicians that they associated with Byte Dance. In the third part,I am going to illustrate Bytedance’s ambitions and how to make a huge impact in the Internet world.


Beginnings- A Internet company coming out of the apartment

  Since the media began to become popular in 2014, Bytedance has done one thing, recommending engine and creation platform, this is Bytedance’s most important product-TouTiao (a software for pushing news), but everything is difficult at the beginning. At the beginning, the company even Mobilize all staff to invite creators, regardless of product or operation, as long as it is a customer service who can communicate. But with the content, there must be a good recommendation engine. When financing in 2014, Zhang Yiming- who is the CEO of Bytedance, mentioned that the number of algorithm engineers per unit area in Toutiao today is the highest in the world. (Soho,2020) In 2015, Zhang Yiming posted a US$1 million advertisement for recruiting top machine learning talents on his Weibo. In the contact method column, The high-paying recruitment of algorithm talents was very eye-catching. A few days later, he received more than a dozen job search emails, most of which were high-end technical talents working for large companies such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.(Sohu,2020)

  At the beginning of its establishment, it was determined to change the way of information distribution through recommendation algorithms: the editing and distribution mode of portal websites was upgraded to a personalized distribution mode based on big data and machine learning. . At the same time, the company is constantly exploring the growth potential of vertical fields such as search, games, and e-commerce.


TikTok’s predecessor – the advent of 4G networks

  With the advent of the 4G era, people can load videos with faster internet speeds on their mobile phones. Watching videos online has become a reality. Embarkter predicted the application development of short videos in 2014. “4G will likely have the greatest effect on mobile video consumption, which has already become a standard element of mobile behavior in well-developed mobile markets.” (emarketer, 2014) Bytedance has seen the huge prospect of short video development in advance.

  When Douyin went overseas under the name TikTok and landed on the foreign App Store and Android application market, it quickly caused a violent response in the US market. The interface of this video software introduction and the constantly produced fresh content make people love it. After acquiring the short video app with more than 240 million users for USD 1 billion in 2018, it officially entered the North

American market. “Whether TikTok’s popularity in China can be transformed into success in the United States will be determined by teenagers.” (Dami Lee, 2018)

  There have been no similar products in overseas markets for a long time. Tiktok has solved the unsolved problem of YouTube and FB-efficiency improvement. Whether it is from the supply side of creators or advertisers, the demand side of users. Short video is the highest embodiment of efficiency. It is short enough and simple to construct, which greatly reduces the threshold for creators and at the same time lowers the threshold for audiences to watch. The extremely interrupted content is easy for machines to understand, and it greatly improves efficiency in content creation and recommendation convenience.


The business model of Bytedance

  As mentioned in the article by Mark Pesce, Facebook has a powerful relationship management that allows users to spend time constantly visiting their website, which generates a positive sticky response (mark, 2017) The core technology of byte beating It is his background algorithm. This algorithm is just like what Facebook controls in the background, searching for users’ data to control their preferences. What’s more powerful bytedance is that they apply a global marketing system, which refers to dividing the many products featured by ByteDance into smart recommendation and smart social, through articles, pictures, Q&A, communities, short videos, and live broadcasts. Multiple channels focus on user attention, accumulate huge samples to feed back the data platform, and perform secondary calculations through the data platform to make smart recommendations and algorithms more accurate. In other words, Bytedance has accumulated enough sample libraries to support the platform to fully tap user value. For advertising agencies, this is undoubtedly the biggest benefit.

TikTok’s London office is based out of a WeWork building in Holborn called Aviation House.(CNBC,2020)

How to build an international market

  In March 2018, Zhang Yiming clearly stated in an interview that he hopes to achieve globalization in three years, that is, the proportion of overseas users will increase from 10% to 50%.(businessofapps,2020) For global expansion, the principle is “Talent First”-prioritize talents, that is, open offices wherever they are. TikTok’s global centers are located in Los Angeles and London. In May 2020, the US media CNBC revealed that ByteDance has decided to set up TikTok’s European business center in London, UK. London will become TikTok’s second largest office area. (CNBC, 2020) Bytedance has further downplayed the company’s Chinese background. TikTok, headquartered in Mountain View, California, has adopted a fully localized operation strategy. Employees are recruited with high standards and high salaries from well-known technology companies such as Facebook. For example, ByteDance hired Vanessa Pappas, the global creative director of Youtube, as the head of the North American market. It can be seen that the original ambition of Bytedance is to become an Internet company established in the international market.

  The adjustment of the organizational structure means both opportunities and challenges for Bytedance. In terms of challenges, countries face a variety of environments, and there are huge differences in policies, regulations, and cultures around the world. As a global platform, it must abide by the laws and regulations of each country and respect the cultural customs of each country. Therefore, it is particularly important to understand the local national culture and formulate a local operating model. At the same time, achieving unified management of global offices on the basis of respect for differences means greater responsibility. In Fiona’s article, she mentioned the limitations of China’s policies on the Internet space. (Fiona, 2019) So Bytedance’s ambitions are not limited to China. Bytedance Zhang Yiming long believed that only appeared in the international market. , His company can compete at the level of Google, Facebook or Amazon.(NYTimes,2020)With the development of Bytedance, he encouraged employees to adopt a business perspective that he called “Martians”. “China’s attempts to control its information space, and to extend this control overseas, are key concerns in the evolution of an international sharing economy.” (Fiona, 2019) Therefore, CEO Zhang Yiming did not regard Bytedance as a global company A Chinese company, and regard it as an essentially global enterprise, free from national starting points or prejudices.

Below is a diagram of Bytedances internet ecology:


Bytedance’s new understanding of the internet

“mathematics is the description of the most basic relationship between things”

Said Bytedance ’s CEO Zhang Yiming,

  The Bytedance’s algorithm was first applied to his news products. This humble application software has brought huge benefits to the company. As a personalized recommendation engine product based on data mining technology, Toutiao is different from previous news clients in our knowledge. Ordinary media companies will form their own style and content, screening, sorting and editing news information, while Toutiao is more like a pure information distribution platform. In the operation of Toutiao Today, the system first collects massive amounts of information, and then through data mining, intelligently analyzes the most popular and worthy user’s attention at all times; secondly, the recommendation engine will be established based on the user’s previous information acquisition. Starting from the personal user model, the combination of the two can intelligently recommend personalized information for users. This non-stance, non-processing information recommendation model enables every user to easily obtain the content of their interest.

  In the thought of Bytedance ’s CEO Zhang Yiming, mathematics is the description of the most basic relationship between things (Sohu, 2018). This is a very clear point of view. In the world of the Internet, everything is controlled by data. Therefore, bytedance’s products have no editorial team for processing, no intervention in content, and relying on algorithmic operation, only distribution channels-this is also Toutiao’s core competitiveness and advantages. As he himself said, “The more on the mobile Internet, the more personalized personal information portals are needed. We were born for the mobile Internet.” (Global CEO, 2019)

  Bytedance uses precise algorithms to predict what people want to see, and many of its products have succeeded by constantly pushing content that audiences are interested in. People keep seeing media content they’re interested in, and it’s like an addiction to wanting more. Bytedance’s algorithm also gives it access to the psychological data of users around the world, though they say the data is kept in a private location, just as Apple’s icloud is in western China. But it is still getting the attention of many western countries.


The Political conflicts caused by Tiktok

  With the powerful computing power of Bytedance I mentioned above, tiktok, as the company’s product with the most overseas audiences, has caused concerns in many countries. In such a tense political situation, TikTok told Australian parliamentarians not to treat it as “political football.” (The Guardian, 2020) What these Western countries are worried about is that such products that rely on algorithms to run will have national user data. But bytedance is not willing to give up the international market it is fighting for. India and the United States have recently tried to “block” TikTok on the grounds of so-called user data security. Earlier in July, an anonymous Australian Federal MP also called for the ban on TikTok. Prime Minister Morrison also said, “People should raise awareness of these issues. The origin of the platform and the awareness of risks”. (The Guardian, 2020)

  Before TikTok/TikTok, the social apps that everyone used, including WeChat, Weibo, Twitter, and Facebook in foreign countries, were at the core of linking friends around the user. The user was the core for social fission to obtain information. The advantage is Always pay attention to the dynamics of friends around you to interact, but the disadvantage is that people can only obtain corresponding information from their own class and surrounding areas when obtaining information. TikTok breaks this rule. According to the AI ​​algorithm, he can grab the content that users are interested in from the information flow and push it after deep mining. Users can dig out the dynamics of all levels in the exploration field of their interests, breaking The original information acquisition circle, and this is changing the cultural foundation of the American people, including the proliferation of previous black incidents. It was impossible for many years to spread out through a short video like today, which means that TikTok is now Change the ruler’s information control power. More importantly, the power of this information dissemination is controlled by a Chinese company, which is not allowed by the American power class.



  For Bytedance, as a new type of Internet company in China, it uses scientific research technology and precise algorithms to create huge benefits. This is its greatest success and a dangerous threat. Especially for emerging Internet companies, in addition to internal organization and management to keep up with the pace of globalization, the external market environment must be faced, especially the pressure of different cultural, political and economic environments in different regions. In the future, we cannot predict whether this Internet company can achieve greater market success, but so far, capitalism’s control of this behavior has limited Bytedance’s future.



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