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Do you know the company that owns TikTok?

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  • Digital Team 

ByteDance Ltd. is a Chinese internet technology company that has attracted attention worldwide, primarily for its video-sharing social networking service and app, TikTok. The company was founded in 2012 by Zhang Yiming and Liang Rubo, along with a team of others. Headquartered in Beijing, ByteDance is incorporated in the Cayman Islands.

ByteDance in the parent company of TikTok

ByteDance is responsible for the development of several popular apps, including the Chinese-specific Douyin, Toutiao, and TikTok, which currently has 1.9 billion monthly active users across all its platforms. The company has become a leader in the world of social media and content creation.

ByteDance’s journey began with the development of Toutiao, a news platform that uses big data algorithms to classify news according to users’ preferences. The company launched its first app, Neihan Duanzi, in 2012, which allowed users to share jokes, memes, and humorous videos. However, the app was eventually forced to shut down in 2018 by the Chinese government.


In 2016, ByteDance established its research arm, the ByteDance AI Lab, headed by Wei-Ying Ma, the former assistant managing director of Microsoft Research Asia. The lab co-developed Xiaomingbot, an AI bot that wrote news articles, with Peking University.

ByteDance has made several acquisitions and launched new products, including investing in the Indonesian news recommendation platform BABE in December 2016 and acquiring Flipagram, which was merged with Musical.ly into TikTok in November 2017. Other notable acquisitions include the UGC short video platform Hypstar (Vigo Video) and News Republic from Cheetah Mobile in November 2017.

ByteDance has also been the subject of regulatory, legislative, and media attention in various countries due to concerns over surveillance, privacy, and censorship. In March 2021, the Financial Times reported that ByteDance was part of a group of Chinese companies aiming to circumvent Apple’s privacy policies, while in December 2018, ByteDance sued Chinese technology news site Huxiu for defamation over its report that Helo, ByteDance’s Indian-language news app, was propagating fake news.

Despite the challenges it has faced, ByteDance continues to innovate and expand its business. In April 2021, the company announced the creation of a new division called BytePlus, which will distribute the underlying platform of TikTok, allowing others to launch similar apps. ByteDance’s success in the world of social media and technology has cemented its position as a leader in the industry, and it will be interesting to see what new developments it brings to the table in the future.

In recent years, ByteDance-owned social media platform TikTok has faced increasing scrutiny from legislators and regulators in several countries over concerns around privacy, censorship, and national security risks. This has culminated in TikTok CEO Shou Chew testifying before Congress, as the Biden administration threatens to ban the app unless ByteDance agrees to spin off their share.

Despite this, TikTok remains hugely popular, with data from analytics firm Sensor Tower showing it to be the top downloaded app in the US in both 2021 and 2022, and some of its 150 million US users expressing their attachment to the platform.

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