Happy Birthday, TikTok, Now It’s Time to Grow Up and Take Over the World

Raise a glass to the birthday app and Do Not Read Until Monday.

Happy Birthday, TikTok, now it’s time to grow up and take over the world

Would you believe TikTok is only one year old? While technically not true, August 2 does happen to be the anniversary of the convergence of Musical.ly and Douyin, which resulted in the current incarnation of TikTok.

ByteDance, a Chinese tech start-up, developed Douyin in-house, then purchased Musical.ly, which had a similar vibe, but a way bigger international footprint.

In the time since the merge, TikTok has been nearly inescapable. Trends and memes start there, and brands are still trying to crack how to reach its users. Creators on the platform have started to dominate cultural conversation, such as at the traditionally YouTube-centric VidCon.

Should it keep those creators happy, say, through monetization, they should continue to push the platform to a more mainstream audience. 

But where could that success lead for ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company? 

While TikTok may be on the tongues of America’s teens (and social media managers), most of the company’s other offerings remain in the shadows. For example, you’d be forgiven for not having used Toutiao, or TopBuzz, ByteDance’s news aggregator. The Chinese version of the app has 700 million users. TopBuzz, its English-language equivalent, isn’t at quite the same level– and its following seems to be Boomer-cosplay fodder– but it’s conceivable ByteDance could replicate its success with TikTok. It’s already acquired a Western aggregator, News Republic

Further, the company has a loooot of other projects its working on – Toutiao may offer an alternative to Baidu with its new search function and WeChat with Duoshan; it’s planning a Spotify alternative, working on AI music, and – why not – a phone.

The Chinese market already has some loose equivalents of U.S. firms – e.g. Baidu/GoogleTencent/FacebookAlibaba/Amazon – however, ByteDance’s situation is different. It sets itself apart from Chinese companies by having a toehold in the U.S. market. 

And, in contrast to U.S. firms, it has the fastest-growing platform in America.

Odds + The End

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