TikTok (Douyin in China)

ByteDance Getting into Gaming & Education

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Mar 28

ByteDance is in a sense the new "Facebook of China". It runs some of the biggest apps in China that have the potential to scale globally such as Douyin --- called TikTok in the west, and Toutiao, the best news aggregation app in the world. Even the UFCand NHL sports industries are joining distribution with Toutiao.

ByteDance and Gaming

In a world of Apple Arcade and Google getting more into gaming, so too is ByteDance. Bytedance, let's not forget, is the world's most valuable startup (more valuable than Uber) and it's the world's leading app creator with a collection of rising new media apps including TikTok and Jinri Toutiao. Now it's solidifying further entrance into video games after it took control of a mobile game developer through a roundabout deal.

Shanghai Mokun has become wholly owned by Beijing Zhaoxi Guangnian, a second-tier subsidiary of Bytedance. Mokun is known for mobile games Flick Up and Fighter of the Destiny.

Bytedance's foray into mini-games and mini-programs shows China's dominance of integrating features within apps, something relatively limited in the U.S. Asia's "super-app" model provides more sticky customer-centric experiences with greater personalization.

ByteDance and Influencer Marketing

ByteDance is also well entrenched in the future of influencer marketing. Bytedance has made an investment of an undisclosed amount in a celebrity management agency named Mountain Top, according to Chinese business research platform Tianyancha.com.

KOLs standing for key opinion leaders are basically influencers with a scale in China that surpasses how we view micro-influencers in the west, The Beijing-based agency was founded in 2015 and has a roster of movie A-listers including Angelababy and Zhou Dongyu. The firm also manages KOLs such as Papi Jiang who has more than 30 million followers on Bytedance's Douyin (aka TikTok).

It's only a matter of time before ByteDance gets into long form original video content too. According to TechNode, Bytedance, the operator of popular news aggregator Jinri Toutiao and short video app Douyin, has been plotting its foray into long-form videos like films and television drama segments. If this comes to pass it would be a direct competitor with the likes of Baidu's iQiyi, Tencent Video, and Youku.

Bytedance to launch K-12 online education platform

Bytedance is forming an online education platform for kindergarten, primary, and high school students, first reported by media outlet 36Kr in late March, 2019. ByteDance has been very aggressive with the acquisition of data from even its younger users.

The platform launch marks Bytedance's push for a larger share of the online education market. The company's two existing education products --- one-on-one English tutoring platform Gogokid and foreign teacher live-streaming platform aiKID still have a ways to go but it shows just the scale of ByteDance's efforts to get into everything related to its audience.

Is TikTok the Viral Snapchat of China?

ByteDance's most popular app is definately TikTok and recently it acquired or picked up assets rather, from a defunct startup called GeoGif, which developed location-specific, animated stickers and overlays for videos, suggested to users when they capture video or images in specific places. That sounds a lot like Snapchat's domain.

Meanwhile TikTok has amassed over 1 billion downloads, with an increasing reach in South and South-East Asia as well as having a base of teen users in the West. With this app ByteDance has taken micro video and memes to a new level of user creativity and virality. If Instagram stories are more private, TikTok creators are more public and popular among younger age groups with more of an entertainment focus.

The true potential of ByteDance is to one day become more advertising focused, but it needs to keep building its audience and products. ByteDance is also being rumored to launching more products, even such as the Slack competitor it is also reportedly building as a counter to not meeting growth targets.

ByteDance is the world's most Innovative Entertainment company

TikTok has around 500 million MAUs, roughly half of Tencent's WeChat. However there's nothing Tencent or Facebook should fear more than ByteDance, a younger ambitious company with room for international growth.

Tencent has been generating the bulk of its income from video games for years and is the world's largest games publisher by revenues, according to market researcher Newzoo. If ByteDance could beat Tencent in app development, advertising and gaming, it could eventually supplant it, even as Tencent pivots more to the Cloud and enterprise solutions.

The 35-year-old founder of Bytedance Ltd has a net worth about $13 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, making him China's 9th-richest person and one of the fastest in modern times to amass a mega-fortune. Who is he, he's Zhang Yiming.

Overall, Douyin and TikTok have more than 500 million global active users and ByteDance's ability to innovate, create more apps and a frenzied product timeline means it can only continue to scale upwards. If Facebook can only consolidate into privacy focused Chat and Ads, eventually the likes of Amazon and ByteDance will take advertising marketshare away from it. Apple's privacy centric subscription ecosystem will shun advertising revenues of the micro targeting Google variety.

The World's Most Valuable Unicorn

ByteDance's valuation as of October, 2018 was a valuation of US$76 billion. That's not your typical unicorn, it's one of the key companies in China's future technological dynasty. Now for the controversial part. Huawei is being let into Europe and Tencent too is basically like an arm of the Chinese Government. Chinese companies must comply with Beijing's rules and access to data --- therefore ByteDance is China's cultural weapon to reach the global consumer. As such, it will find "unlimited" funding opportunities one way or another. Since, like Huawei, it will be a patriotic company for China's future dominance.

ByteDance getting into gaming, communications-chat, education and original video means it could be a generational company for China not just in social media but entertainment and Gen Z software services.

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