The world’s most valuable unicorn ByteDance said its apps, including short video app Douyin (known as TikTok outside mainland China), gathered a total of 1 billion monthly active users globally as of this January.
Douyin president Zhang Nan announced the number at the Shanghai Film Festival this week, and the figures were later confirmed by a ByteDance spokeswoman.
The Beijing-based new media giant counts deep-pocketed investors such as SoftBank among its backers. It secured an estimated US$76bil (RM315.52bil) valuation in its most recent funding round last year.
The company, which also operates news app Jinri Toutiao which translates as “Today’s Headlines” in English, relies mostly on advertising revenue generated from its core content business.
Short-video sharing platform TikTok – where users can watch as well as create short videos with music, stickers and animation as special effects – has become a global hit, helped the company to expand its reach.
Total installations of TikTok are estimated to be 1.2 billion worldwide, according to industry researcher Sensor Tower. It predicted the app’s gross revenue mark will surpass US$100bil (RM415.16bil) later this month.
TikTok’s rapid international growth has thrown up a number of regulatory hurdles for Bytedance though, with recent stand-offs in Indonesia, the United States and India.
In February, ByteDance agreed to pay a US$5.7mil (RM23.66mil) fine to the Federal Trade Commission in the US over TikTok’s illegal collection of personal information from children. That fine represented the largest penalty handed down in a US children’s privacy investigation, according to the commission.
A statement from TikTok at that time expressed a commitment towards “creating measures” that would protect users, including tools for parents to safeguard their kids’ information.
In July last year, authorities in Indonesia banned TikTok for hosting “pornography, inappropriate content and blasphemy” on its platform. TikTok was later reinstated there.
TikTok has recently hired Silicon Valley veterans including former Facebook executive Blake Chandlee and former YouTube growth expert Vanessa Pappas to help it localise the operation and expand its businesses in the US.
The app factory’s other popular apps in the domestic market include selfie app Faceu. Bytedance is also known for news aggregator TopBuzz and office messaging and efficiency app Lark in international markets.
Besides churning out apps, BydeDance also has ambitions in hardware. Last month, it said the company would build education hardware after it acquired some patents from Chinese smartphone maker Smartisan. – South China Morning Post