The largest of the social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter have had to face severe criticisms of not doing enough to prevent abusive discourse and allowing malicious political influence campaigns in the United States as well as in other places. This has dented not only their image but has also impacted their market value.
However, the giants of social media in China are experiencing just the opposite. They are growing bigger and richer.
Take the example of Bytedance which is the creator of the news aggregator Jinri Toutiao. It also owns a video-sharing service Tik Tok and a number of other entertainment apps. It has been reported that the firm is in negotiations to raise new funding which would value the company at $75 billion.
Reports, quoting sources with the knowledge of the matter, claimed that the Japanese firm SoftBank is among the investors that are participating in the talks.
If the funding round for the firm goes well and it is valued at $75 billion, then Bytedance would become one of most valuable private tech companies in the world. Recently, Uber was valued at $76 billion.
A successful funding round would allow Bytedance to possess the financial strength to compete with some publicly traded tech companies that are leaders in the market. To put things into perspective, with a market capitalization of about $80 billion, Baidu is the dominant search engine in China.
There was no comment from Bytedance.
China has the largest online population in the world and the apps of Bytedance have gained popularity for use4rs which include advertisers in within just seven years of founding of the company.
In the United States and Europe, the company launched a video-based social network Musical.ly which gained popularity among teenagers last year. It later folded it into Tik Tok. Musical.ly has been credited with being amongst the very few Chinese social media companies that have managed to get traction even outside of China.
Tik Tok or its Chinese edition, Douyin, is used by half a billion people worldwide monthly currently according to Bytedance. To put things into perspective, there are a billion active users worldwide for Instagram, a social media platform for short, homemade videos and pictures.
Bytedance has had to face unique challenges during its growth path primarily because of the it is from China where strict and ever-changing controls on information is maintained by the government. China’s internet regulator accused it of spreading unsavory material last year and the company had to cancel updates to its news app Toutiao. Gthe regulators completely banned a Bytedance app for sharing bawdy jokes and videos in April this year.
Charges of hosting “negative” content were used to completely bank Tik Tok this year by authorities in Indonesia.
(Adapted from NYTimes.com)