According to Bloomberg, a fresh $3 billion round of funding sponsored by SoftBank has elevated China’s Bytedance to the status of the world’s most prominent company. Bytedance, the owner of the popular karaoke video programme TikTok and the massive Chinese news aggregator Toutiao, is currently valued at $75 billion, surpassing Uber’s most recent valuation of $72 billion.
According to reports, Uber is considering an initial public offering (IPO) next year that would value the company at $120 billion. For the time being, however, Bytedance is on top, which is a significant accomplishment for an organisation that had only recently established a significant presence outside of China. Known originally as Musical.ly, TikTok has since been acquired by Bytedance and incorporated into the company’s own Douyin service, where it is now known as TikTok. The app is a major sensation among teenagers in the West, and it has evidently already achieved the social media milestone of having Facebook attempt to clone it.
While all is going on, Toutiao continues to be one of the most popular programmes in China, with a large number of users who log on every day and every month to utilise it. The application makes use of artificial intelligence to aggregate and propose news stories, as well as to generate revenue for Bytedance through advertising in the feed. According to Bloomberg’s calculations, Bytedance generated $2.5 billion in revenue a year ago, but the company, like the majority of new enterprises in its position, is not yet profitable.
Toutiao and Bytedance have both fallen foul of Chinese government censors this year; the news application was briefly banned from app stores, while another app, the funny meme-centered Neihan Duanzi, was shut down completely by the Chinese government. According to Zhang Yiming, the founder and CEO of Bytedance, the company wrote an open letter apologising for “posting content that was in conflict with key socialist values.”