Byte Dance is a technology company that owns and operates various user-generated content platforms and applications. Founded by Zhang Yiming in March 2012 in Beijing, China, ByteDance is the owner of the popular apps Toutiao and TikTok (Douyin). As of August 2022, ByteDance's other products include Xigua Video, Helo, Lark, and BytePlus. The company's stated mission is "Inspire Creativity, Enrich life."
Toutiao is an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered news aggregator for China that was launched in 2012. The app is installed on over 240 million unique devices. The platform uses machine learning (ML) technology to curate and deliver personalized news content to users.
TikTok is a short-form video platform composed of user-generated content. TikTok is available internationally, while Douyin is only available in China. Douyin is often referred to as the "Chinese version of TikTok," although the two apps have different content. However, they do share a similar interface. Douyin offers extensive e-commerce features, while TikTok primarily supports video content.
Douyin was launched in September 2016. In September 2017, the first version of TikTok was launched outside of China. In August 2018, TikTok merged with Musical.ly, which ByteDance had acquired back in November 2017. TikTok has faced international criticism and controversy regarding the treatment and sharing of its user data to the Chinese government. TikTok has refuted these claims by saying its user data is only stored in the United States. In June 2022, audio recordings from dozens of ByteDance company meetings about TikTok were leaked; it was revealed in the recordings that Chinese employees have the ability to access nonpublic data of US TikTok users. Data collected by Douyin, which includes device information and usage patterns, is stored in China and sent to various Chinese companies.
In February 2022, the Chinese government purchased a 1 percent stake in ByteDance and acquired a board seat.
China's ByteDance leapfrogs Uber to becomes world's most valuable startup
TikTok owner Bytedance is now the world's most valuable startup