5 Things To Know About ByteDance

You already know TikTok (even if you refuse to admit it — we know you’re out there). Well, over 800 million (forecasted) users in 2023 are also fully embracing the platform or in complete denial too. Putting the love-hate relationship aside, what do you really know about TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance? 

ByteDance is a Beijing-based Internet company that’s been developing applications since its founding in 2012. Its popularity exploded in 2016 after launching Douyin, a short-form video app that became the international predecessor to TikTok. It wasn’t until 2017 that ByteDance purchased the video app Musical.ly for upwards of $1 billion, then it re-branded and re-launched Musical.ly as TikTok in 2018.

Since then, TikTok has emerged as one of the most popular social media platforms worldwide, and the first Chinese app to penetrate the U.S. market. But Douyin and TikTok aren’t the only apps that ByteDance has developed — there’s much more history behind this groundbreaking company than what meets the eye. Let’s dive into why ByteDance should be on the radar of every brand marketer… if it isn’t already.


1. ByteDance has a long-standing relationship with creators.

Regulations vary for influencer marketing from country to country. According to an interview with Bloomberg business reporter Shelly Banjo, China has had salaried influencers on its payroll for years. However, ByteDance had been careful to avoid direct payment when working in the U.S.  and instead worked with brand sponsors to fulfill these influencer payments prior to launching the TikTok Creator Marketplace. 


2. ByteDance’s new app, Lemon8, aims to further monetize influencer-generated content (IGC).

Lemon8 is a picture-based app that markets itself as a lifestyle community for creators. Though it was launched in Japan in 2020, and quickly expanded to Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, it was quietly launched in the U.S. and U.K. just this year. 

Packed with highly-specific guidelines, this Pinterest-meets-Instagram-styled app compensates some creators for posting high-quality image carousels with detailed captions. However, not all creators are able to earn revenue from Lemon8. Still, many are active on the app simply out of love for their craft along with the opportunity to hone their talents in a new landscape among their peers.


3. Another ByteDance app has a nostalgic vibe.

Though TikTok is ByteDance’s most popular app of all time with 4.3 billion worldwide downloads, its second most downloaded app, Huoshan Video, has a familiar concept. It specializes in super-short video clips — 15 seconds at most, to be exact. Though it’s not quite Vine, it’s taking a cue from the former viral video platform and has garnered 2.8 million downloads worldwide. But it’s not all social media for ByteDance. The company’s workplace collaboration app, Feishu, is a Slack dupe that surpassed $100 million in revenue in 2022. 


4. ByteDance is testing food delivery with TikTok’s twin.

It’s no secret that food and beverage brands are highly active on TikTok. According to Insider Intelligence, as of April 2022, food and beverage was the fourth highest-performing vertical based on engagement rate per follower worldwide. Douyin, TikTok’s Chinese counterpart has also seen success in this space, with restaurant owners frequently live streaming on the platform. CNBC reports that ByteDance is now testing a food delivery service through Douyin, thus capitalizing on the culinary live stream popularity. 

This development puts Douyin in competition with Chinese food delivery services like Meituan, which is similar to on-demand services like Uber Eats, Grubhub, and DoorDash in the United States. Though there’s no detailed timeline for Douyin’s food delivery rollout yet, we foresee similar adaptations with TikTok if all goes well. After all, with TikTok fulfillment centers popping up in the U.S., why stop there?  


5. ByteDance’s data practices are being challenged in court.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump’s time in office had lots of very public highlights, one of which centered around a potential TikTok ban in 2020, stemming from data concerns. However, despite an executive order banning the app followed by a call for an American buyer to take over, ByteDance retained ownership in the end. 

Now, under the Biden-Harris administration, the White House has mandated a sweeping TikTok ban on government devices. And that’s not all — a bipartisan bill is debuting to address national security concerns over TikTok. It remains to be seen how the bill will impact TikTok and ByteDance’s activity in the United States.


Keeping Up With ByteDance

ByteDance grew from a viable startup to an international powerhouse. With apps spanning from social media, to gaming, to news, and everything in between, it’s clear that ByteDance is one to watch in the coming years. How do you think ByteDance will change the course of technology? We’re all eager to find out. 


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