Bytedance: How TikTok’s Owner Started

When Zhang Yiming founded ByteDance in a four-bedroom apartment in Beijing in 2012, he might not have expected his short video sharing app to make international headlines.

As the world’s most valuable unicorn valued at over 100 billion dollars, the tech company has built a full range of social and entertainment apps.

Software engineer Zhang believed in technology and built ByteDance’s first product, Jinri Toutiao which means “today’s headlines” in English. It is a Chinese-language news aggregator using AI algorithms to deliver content. 

Compared with traditional media, whose content layout is decided by editors, the algorithm pushes content based on users’ interest revealed by their behaviors like clicking and reading.

However, controversy accompanied user growth as the app was accused of copyright infringement and plagiarism, not only by newspapers but also by internet companies, such as search engine Baidu.

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