Bytedance: the new era of the internet in China

“Meanwhile In China / Yang Mu & Sai Bao – Matthias Schäfer (DE), Sofia Braga (IT)” by Ars Electronica is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Bytedance is now a leading company in China’s internet industry, with high technology. It has several internet products , including the app Douyin, one of the most downloaded apps in the world. This essay will first introduce how the products under the Bytedance company operate and how they generate revenue for Bytedance. It will then analyse the business model of Bytedance to understand how Bytedance has succeeded in the internet industry.

1.introduce to bytedance

Bytedance is a Chinese high-tech company that is rapidly entering overseas markets by launching apps like TikTok. (Ma, 2021).Founded in 2012, the company was one of the first technology companies to apply artificial intelligence to the mobile internet scene. The company’s vision is to build a “global creation and communication platform”. The company’s core strategy for globalisation is “technology abroad”. Currently valued at US$75 billion, Bytedance is recognized as the “Most Valuable Chinese Startup of 2019”. The company’s products include Douyin, Toutiao, Xigua Video, Dongchedi and PiPi Shrimp.
Toutiao is a universal information platform dedicated to connecting people and information. Users can use the Toutiao app to learn about the daily current news and help them understand the bigger world. Toutiao currently has a recommendation engine. Search engine, follow subscription and content operation and other distribution methods.
TikTok is an app developed primarily for the international market that is based on Douyin, which serves the Chinese market.Ma,2021Douyin is a short video platform that helps users express themselves and record their lives. As of August 2020, douyin has over 600 million daily active users and continues to grow at a high rate.
3)Xigua Video
Xigua Video is China’s leading medium video platform, providing quality content for different people. People can use this video app to watch some TV series movies or sports events to reap a sense of relaxed curiosity and light up their curiosity about life.
Dongchedi is a one-stop automotive information and service platform where users can get professional and authentic car selection services, as well as efficient solutions for car manufacturers and car dealers. do byte dance make money


Advertising platforms earn revenue by extracting data from users’ online activities and analysing the data in order to auction off ad space to advertisers. The more users interact with the site, the more information can be collected and used.(Srnicek, 2017). A market research report on ByteDance shows that Douyin app is ByteDance biggest cash flow and the most efficient app for selling ads. Douyin is the fastest growing product in terms of advertising revenue. (Tencent News, 2020))Here are the advertising revenue figures for the Douyin app from 2017 to 2019
Advertising revenue of 15 billion in 2017
2018 advertising revenue 50-55 billion
2019 advertising revenue 100 billion

2) E-commerce

2020 ByteDance’s earnings in the e-commerce segment reach 80 billion yuan. ByteDance expects to develop Douyin into the world’s largest live streaming platform by the end of the year.


3.why do bytedance success

1). A unique artificial intelligence algorithm

Bytedance was founded in China just in time for the peak of internet development. Precise algorithmic analysis allows it to automatically push content of interest to users, saving them the time of selecting content. Take the example of Douyin, whose artificial intelligence algorithms can make intelligent recommendations based on user preferences and app usage, a unique advantage. (Ma, 2021). It can respond to different countries’ regulatory regimes, while outputting content that locals prefer to watch for different countries’ cultures, etc. For example, Asians love to see cute girls and dancing, European and American users love to see something exclusive and exciting, etc. In addition, Douyin’s algorithm allocation is extremely centralised. Bytedance has its own traffic pool. Whether you have followers or not, as long as you post your work you are bound to get plays. After that, Bytedance will then continue to push based on your performance within the traffic pool. Bytedance’s  algorithm gives everyone the opportunity to produce content, and the user experience is greatly enhanced.

2). Monetization

Online shopping has taken hold in Asian countries, and in 2018, Bytedance leveraged this with Alibaba, which pioneered live shopping in China. The influence of the platform’s celebrities and stars is used to attract users to buy and drive traffic to the shopping platform. In 2019, Bytedance officially set up its own e-commerce system. Then in April, the Douyin shop was launched, allowing users to spend money directly within Bytedance, without having to jump to an external link.

3)Unique operation model

Douyin has created a new era of short videos. Canadian researchers studied the attention spans of 2,000 people at the turn of the millennium,  and did the same experiment 15 years later. In the intervening years – which saw the rapid rollout of home computers, the advent of YouTube and the iPhone, and the rise in availability and fall in cost of affordable home broadband internet – our ability to concentrate on one thing before our brain switched off dropped by a third, from 12 seconds to eight. (Chris,2021).Bytedance has mastered this well, as it captures people’s attention as much as possible by constantly outputting short 15-second videos. With short videos that don’t bore viewers, and a new video swiped every fifteen seconds to release new dopamine in viewers, viewers are never bored.

5.concerns about Bytedance

“Donald Trump” by Michael Vadon is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

On 27 February 2020, Bytedance paid $92 million worth of compensation in the US. (TikTok ban, 2020). The US accused Bytedance of obtaining personal information from users through improper means, including the use of facial recognition technology. And later, former US President Donald Trump banned TikTok, the overseas version of the Bytedance app, from operating in the US. However there is no evidence on the surface that TikTok threatens US national security, and the US ban on TikTok is more politically motivated. It has become commonplace for the US government to step in and suppress overseas companies.

“The Tik Tok / Douyin Generation” by gunman47 is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

At the same time, the implications of the short-video traffic era have attracted a great deal of scholarly attention in China. Some believe that short videos are corrupting the souls of today’s youth. Most of the content output by Douyin is undernourishing, videos that are only meant to catch the eye. In the long run, this will affect the values of young people. Because of some bad values, ByteDance has been interviewed many times by the state Internet information department. Bytedance next has to keep on strengthening control in content regulation in order to have more good content for short videos.


As the head company of the Chinese Internet, ByteDance has a large number of breakout products that have driven the development of China’s Internet platforms. While ByteDance is succeeding and becoming increasingly international, it should also reflect on the dangers it is in and how it can better export content to its audience.

Reference list

Ma, Y., & Hu, Y. (2021). Business Model Innovation and Experimentation in Transforming Economies: ByteDance and TikTok. Management and Organization Review17(2), 382–388.


Srnicek, N., & De Sutter, L. (2017). Platform capitalism . Polity.


Stokel-Walker, C. (2021). TikTok Boom : China’s Dynamite App and the Superpower Race for Social Media. Canbury Press.


ByteDance expert meeting document out: 2020 advertising revenue of 150 billion.(2020).Retrieved from


TikTok ban (Vol. 2020, Issues 9-19). (2020). ABC1 NSW.