The Difference Global Insights

What is ByteDance and why are they worth $75 billion?

Published 6th November 2018


Imagine a company that has 1 billion users across the world, but you don’t know their name. Imagine a company worth $75 billion, more valuable than Uber, but you wouldn’t be able to recognise their logo.

This company is ByteDance.

Bytedance Logo

This Chinese tech company, founded in 2012 by Yiming Zhang, is probably the world’s most anonymous multi-billion dollar company. However, ByteDance will not stay a secret for long. It’s ready to make a bid for success on a global scale.

ByteDance’s products

Since its founding in 2012, ByteDance has built up a portfolio of successful tech brands, household names in China.

Its flagship product is Toutiao, a news aggregator that pulls together stories from Chinese news services, serving them to users based on their interests. It claims to have 120 million daily users.

That’s not all. ByteDance also owns:

Tik Tok — a music and video platform

Flipagram — a popular video app, acquired in 2017

News Republic — a breaking news and video aggregator, acquired in 2017

Top Buzz — International version of Toutiao

Buzz Video — a platform for short videos and GIFs

Recent acquisitions

Perhaps the boldest statement of ByteDance’s ambition for global reach came when it acquired in a deal worth between $800 million and $1 billion.

At the time of acquisition, had 60 million active users, mostly in the US. However, it had very little traction in China and the Far East. ByteDance aims to change that. It wants to grow this music-based social networking app, popular with teenagers, into a truly global player.

ByteDance’s philosophy

Tech giants in the West regularly talk about their mission and corporate philosophy. However, we know very little about the philosophies that drive ByteDance and other Chinese tech companies. From what we can tell, ByteDance appears to be a forward-looking organisation, with values to match their technical expertise.

ByteDance aims to empower women in technology. In 2017, ByteDance struck a global partnership with QUALS, a joint initiative of UN Women and ITU, the leading United Nations tech agency. ByteDance works with EQUALS on programmes in China to empower women and girls by boosting access to the opportunities of the digital economy. ByteDance is also concerned with its effect on its users, partnering with Tsinghua University to research the impact of social platforms on society.

ByteDance has recently found itself at times at odds with China’s ‘great firewall’ of censorship. In the run-up to New Year’s Eve 2017, Toutiao was taken offline for 24 hours as punishment for what the Chinese government saw as “exerting a bad influence on online opinion” with possibly pornographic content. ByteDance, while trying to grow in China, still attempts to push the boundaries of what it can do in that country.

Domestic growth and overseas potential

ByteDance’s ambitious programme of acquisitions shows that it has a plan to keep growing in China. With its products such as News Republic, Top Buzz and, it now has a presence in over 40 other markets, including Japan, S. Korea, N. America, Europe, Latin America, South East Asia and India. However, for companies like ByteDance, mere presence is not enough. ByteDance wants to fulfil its potential and become a global giant.

After a year of scandals, Facebook has experienced a sharp decline in user numbers. A Pew survey of 3,400 Facebook users in the US found that 29% of respondents had deleted their Facebook app in the past year. A massive 44% of respondents aged between 18 and 29 said they had stopped using Facebook.

If young people are shunning Facebook in their droves, could a Chinese-owned social network fill the gap? has already shown that it can build up an audience of younger people. ByteDance will be looking to enhance its offering to take their new acquisition to critical mass.

Tiktok App Success in USA App Annie

ByteDance is investing in advanced AI, aiding content discovery, tailoring delivery to users’ interests and enhancing user experience. Could ByteDance’s algorithms provide users with the content they want, without crossing the line as Facebook did?

China Is Coming

Now you know all about ByteDance, remember where you read this when everyone is talking about them!

ByteDance is just one of a large number of Chinese companies to watch. In fact, you could say that China has already arrived as a major player on the global tech scene. 9 of the world’s top 20 tech companies are based in China. These companies are growing as fast as mobile take-up in China surges. Huawei is now the 3rd biggest phone brand in the US.

Can Western companies maintain their leadership, as Chinese hardware and software innovators continue to invest? Only time will tell.


GTM Market Planning
Product Strategy
Marketing Strategy
PR & Comms Strategy

Sales Enablement

Sales Onboarding
Cadence Planning
Sales Playbooks
Cultivate integrated markets


SEO Agency
Content Marketing Agency
PR Agency
CRO Agency
Can I work with The Difference Group?

We’re not restricted to just the UK, nor is our expertise confined to just one industry. No matter what your needs are, we can help you reach your audiences, no matter where they might be. We know how to plan and execute marketing campaigns, help sales teams hit target and bring in all important leads.

How long has The Difference Group been AN Agency FOr?

A new player in the industry, The Difference Group was founded in 2020 with a very clear mission and even clearer values. We wanted to create a company that could compete with the industry’s giants, but we knew that we wouldn’t be able to do that with the same old solutions. We’ve created a highly flexible solution for clients to take advantage of the strategy, sales and marketing knowledge locked in our team.

What makes us different from Other marketing agencies?

Our core values make us different. Our aim is to embed ourselves into your team, understand your business and the biggest challenges that you need help solving. We look to solve the biggest challenges that represent a massive difference to your objectives and your bottom line.

How Long are partnerships?

Over the past 12 months we’ve had 100% retention rate of out clients. The Difference standard terms are 3-6 months, this ensures we have enough time to deliver the best results by creating an account plan that’s focused on your objectives and that’s 100% personalised around your and your teams’ specific needs.

Read Our Most Recent Articles

Enterprising Gen Z
TDG founder Alex Lawford gets interviewed on The Enterprising Gen Z podcast. Discussing entrepreneurs, SEO, sales enablement and founder tips.
Let’s be honest; Social media isn’t very social anymore. My feed fills up with useless information. Mostly videos of cats, surfing (which I approve of) and the occasional worldie.
We share how growth hacking strategies and tactics can help you scale your customer acquisition.