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Becoming the World's Most Valuable Start-up- The Story of ByteDance (The Owner of TikTok)


The logo of TikTok
The logo of TikTok (Picture credit: Wikipedia

Welcome to Youth Motivator. I would like to tell you the success story of a very popular and controversial application, TikTok.
Let us know how the company which offers TikTok has been valuated at a whopping 75 billion dollars.
TikTok is a very popular social video app; more than 500 million youngsters use this app for creating and sharing short-duration videos.
TikTok has been one of the most downloaded apps on the Google Play and App Store.
By reading this post you will get to know very interesting facts and will gain insights on how this app grew so rapidly worldwide.
This article is also the biography of Alex Zhu and Luyu Yang.

The start-

TikTok was initially started as an educational project.
In the year 2014, two friends namely, Alex Zhu and Luyu Yang decided to develop an educational app.
These two friends observed that at those times the educational videos were too lengthy.
So, an idea sparked in their minds that they will produce short educational videos which would range in between 3 to 5 minutes.
Alex Zhu and Luyu Yang thought that this short video content would replace the pre-existing protracted video content.
They wanted to teach various subjects like science, mathematics, etc. through making short videos.
So, these two friends raised a funding of 2.5 lakh dollars and worked for 6 months to build their product.

Encountering the first failure-

And finally, they launched their product in the market but unfortunately their product failed.
This failure forced them to retrospect on their wrong-doings and shortcomings which resulted in the failure of their product.
After much brainstorming, Alex Zhu and Luyu Yang realised that the educational videos of short duration are not sufficient to cover all the necessary points. And the public wanted more knowledge which could not be accommodated in the videos of just 3-5 minutes duration.

Getting to know the trouble of creators-

They also realised that watching videos are very easy but creating the video content is  relatively hard, as this requires investments in the form of time and money to work on animation, tools, software, cameras, etc.
And many creators or teachers failed to create engaging content because they lacked most of these resources, as a result their content didn’t gain popularity.
So, these friends started working on the shortcomings of their product.

A brilliant idea-

Once, Alex Zhu and Luyu Yang were travelling in a train.
During that journey they observed the behaviour of the youngsters in the train, the youngsters were constantly engaged with their smartphones by taking selfies, listening to music and they were also shooting short videos, applying filters and effects on them and later they started sharing those videos with their friends.
This observation sparked an important idea of creating a new social media platform which combines music, photos and videos.

Failure as the stepping stone of success-

Their previous experience in developing the educational product helped them immensely, this means that even their failure did not get wasted, they gained immense knowledge and hands-on experience while developing their first product and this helped them in developing the social media app, Musical.ly.
They decided that the content in Musical.ly app should be of short durations and must be very easy to share.
So, in July 2014, Musical.ly was released.
This app mainly focused on the youngsters.
The duration of the videos in their app was fixed as a minimum of 15 seconds and a maximum of 1 minute.
Alex Zhu and Luyu Yang encouraged the video creators by providing them with all the necessary tools like filters, editing options, etc. within the app.
Previously, video creation and editing was a very tiresome process.
But Musical.ly made the job of video creators very easy, they provided the tools by which anyone can shoot great videos anywhere by using only a smartphone.
Alex Zhu and Luyu Yang also took a great care to establish connection between the creators and the viewers. By this method, the social network of the app grew very rapidly.
The people were presented with the content of their interest, started sharing the content on several social media platforms. This greatly helped in the marketing of Musical.ly.
Even though musical.ly app was running satisfactorily, this app failed to create a trend.
So, the creators of the app focused on making Musical.ly trend.

How a TV show resulted in the success?

Once, in a television show by name Lip Sync Battle, Alex Zhu and Luyu Yang noticed that the performers used to do lip syncing.
Lip syncing means acting by moving the lips in accordance to the song or audio played in the background.
So, then Musical.ly app started advertising the lip sync within app.
This lip syncing feature changed the fate of their app forever.

Ironing out the branding issue-

Even though people were making lip sync videos by utilizing their app, they found that while sharing these videos in other social media platforms, the logo of their app was getting cropped out.
So, the logo was placed in such a way that even when someone shares the video, the logo doesn’t get cropped out.
Eventually, the lip sync videos gained huge popularity and people began to share their videos on many social media platforms, as the logo of Musical.ly was present in the videos, this helped in their branding.
This eventually resulted in more downloads and popularity of Musical.ly.

Selecting the best-

Alex Zhu and Luyu Yang combined all the great features of the social media apps and provided them in their app, Musical.ly.
For example, they combined the lip syncing feature of Dubsmash app, filters of Snapchat and the user interface of Facebook and Instagram into Musical.ly.
Along with the passage of time, the popularity and user base of this app multiplied rapidly.

The big purchase-

By observing this success, ByteDance brought Musical.ly on November 2017 for a whopping 800 million dollars.

About ByteDance-

ByteDance is a Chinese internet technology company.
ByteDance was founded by Zhang Yiming, when he was of 29 years old.
Many investors doubted his capability, but he proved them wrong by establishing a giant empire in just a period of 7 years.
In 2012, the ByteDance launched its news aggregating app by name Toutiao.
Toutiao provides personalised news to an individual based on his or her interests.
Toutiao became popular by employing artificial intelligence to display the news from many different news agencies, much like Facebook’s news feed.
But after a time, this company was faced with many copyright lawsuits from media companies, who blamed Toutiao for stealing their original work.
All of these lawsuits got settled when Zhang Yiming agreed to share the revenue with the media outlets.
And subsequently, Toutiao became the most popular news services provider but was suspended in 2018.

Growing at a frantic pace-

Zhang Yiming quickly expanded his company on a global scale by acquisitions and hiring talented workforce from across the world.
Within a short span of time in foreign markets, ByteDance gained immense popularity.
Zhang Yiming launched many products in over 150 markets in 75 languages.
His products focused on providing education, short videos, news aggregation, etc.
Douyin app by ByteDance was very similar to the Musical.ly app but Douyin focussed only on China.
So, ByteDance merged Musical.ly with Douyin and launched an app for the international market by name, TikTok.
TikTok is the most popular offering from ByteDance.
The majority of the TikTok users are located in China, India and USA.
The TikTok mainly targets the youngsters of 21 years of age or below.   
TikTok is headquartered in Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles.        

Experiencing setbacks-

TikTok was banned in India on 18th April, 2018 for showing inappropriate content, but the ban was subsequently uplifted when TikTok assured to employ appropriate measures to filter out the inappropriate content.

The popularity of TikTok -

In the year 2018 TikTok had over 500 million active users, this app had clearly overtaken much established social networking apps like Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat and LinkedIn.
TikTok was the most downloaded app in many countries.
The reasons for the immense popularity of TikTok can be attributed to its ease of use (all you have to do is to scroll to watch videos) and great recommendations (TikTok uses powerful artificial intelligence to recommend the videos according to your interests).
Now, this app has more than 500 million downloads.
TikTok can really become the real competitor of YouTube.
And another interesting thing about TikTok is that the numbers of female TikTok users outnumber the male users.

Earning money with TikTok -

Downloading TikTok is free, but the video creators can earn money for the content they create.

How does TikTok earn money?

In-app purchases-

In the TikTok app, if you like a video creator, you can gift them with coins.
First you need to purchase the coins and then, you can gift those coins to your favourite video creators.
Some of the monetary value of the coins gets transferred to the video creator and also to the TikTok app.

By funding-

TikTok had garnered a very huge user base, by which it was showered with many rounds of funding.     
In the year 2014, TikTok was funded with 250 thousand dollars; in 2015 TikTok received 16.6 million dollars as funding.
And finally, in the next year TikTok was granted 130 million dollars in funding.

By campaigning -

Here, TikTok partners with companies for promotion of their products.
For example, Red Chillies Entertainment Film Company which produced a movie by name Zero, starring Shahrukh Khan partnered with TikTok, to promote this movie on TikTok.   

By advertisements-

TikTok is testing to include advertisements. As, TikTok has billions of users advertisements can be a very good source of revenue.

A very important note-

These kinds of apps make their creators billionaires in expense of your precious time, so be very wise in your decisions, so that in future you should not regret of the choices you made.
You must not waste your precious time on any app.
It is good if you use your time conservatively with these apps for educational purposes and sometimes for entertainment purposes.
So, it is acceptable if you use an app for a limited amount of time for entertainment purpose but be careful to not get addicted these apps.
Kick out the herd or sheep mentality that is, you must not use any app if that app is used by the people around you or if an app is in trending list,  instead you should only use an app if it is necessary for you to use it. 
And an application should also help you to achieve your goals.

Difference between achievers and idlers-

Those who achieve great things in life, will definitely commit some blunders in their journey towards the success and will learn important lessons from those mistakes, these leanings will propel him or her towards the success.
We have learned how the creators of TikTok have used their failure as a weapon to achieve success.
Failures are very common before achieving success, as common as darkness (night) before the dawn.
But those who fear of committing mistakes will never achieve any significant success in their lives and will spend all their lives with guilt of not trying anything significant and with a feeling of inadequacy.

Thank you very much for reading. Please visit my blog and share the content, follow this blog as I will be updating my blog on a very regular basis with interesting information. And also, subscribe to my blog.
Feedback from readers is highly appreciated; it helps me to deliver better results to you.

Once again thank you for your time

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