Tik Tok operator ByteDance passes Uber as most valuable unicornNikkei Asian ReviewNovember 19, 2018
TOKYO/BEIJING — ByteDance, the Chinese startup behind hugely popular video-sharing app TikTok, has become the world’s most valuable unicorn — or privately owned company worth $1 billion or more.
Japanese technology investor SoftBank Group is putting $3 billion into the startup this month through its SoftBank Vision Fund and other conduits.
It trails only the U.S., with 135.
Most uploads are 15-second clips of users dancing.
The app was the most downloaded on Apple’s marketplace for the first half of 2018, and has quickly grown its base to over 500 million monthly active users worldwide as of late October, most of whom are in their teens or 20s.
About four-fifths of TikTok’s 500 million monthly active users are in China, with the rest scattered in the U.S., Japan, South Korea and elsewhere.
“I can just keep watching forever,” a 27-year-old Tokyoite said of TikTok recently.
“These videos that fit my tastes keep on coming without a break.”
TikTok’s chief advantage over video platform YouTube is that it is specifically designed for use on smartphones, letting users move from one clip to another with a swipe of the screen.
The app also employs artificial intelligence and data analysis to learn consumers’ tastes and serve them a constant stream of tailored videos — users who “like” a video featuring a dog, for instance, will be shown more clips with dogs, cats and other animals.
TikTok, the chief driver of that rapid growth, lets users record short videos, add music and share them. Most uploads are 15-second clips of users dancing. Professional comedians also use the app, called Douyin in mainland China, to upload clips of their work.
The video app’s appeal beyond China is part of the reason for its quick rise in popularity. “We’re not just copying a business model from the outside w…