In a world where the coronavirus is stimulating automation, digital transformation and AI, a shiny startup from China called ByteDance is taking on Facebook.
When ByteDance decides to go IPO, it’s going to be a bit epic. ByteDance is likely worth around $85 Billion at this point in April, 2020.
If Instagram was the young Millennial app, the GenZ app of the times isn’t Snapchat, it’s TikTok. India’s adoption of TikTok has made the future prospects of ByteDance as an AI-consumer apps company that much greater.
The short-video app was downloaded 115 million times in March. If Instagram is narcissism personified, TikTok is silliness personified, and in crazy Covid-19 times, silliness wins. While Facebook shines as a digital advertising winner, with WhatsApp and Instagram, ByteDance is showing agility in music, memes and education that’s much more innovative.
ByteDance is also hiring and does PR a bit like Amazon, great at pushing controversy under the rug while gaining new users. Collectively, TikTok videos tagged with #coronavirus have been watched 53 billion times.
While ByteDance is the younger up start, it’s also in the right country for mainstream digital adoption. It has to battle with Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu, the famous “BAT” companies for digital supremacy. So far, so good.
Founded by a Chinese computer scientist, Zhang Yiming, in 2011, it is now the world’s biggest unlisted technology “unicorn” and while some list it as valued at $100 billion already, just 9 years later, it’s likely more rightly in the $85 Billion range, all coronavirus things considered.
When it goes IPO, it will be bigger than Airbnb or Stripe going IPO, both highly anticipated by the markets. ByteDance is also likely state-funded, along with Huawei and Alibaba, as a dynasty type firm for China’s growing influence at global scale.
ByteDance is also more aligned with AI at the intersection of eyeballs and global youth than Facebook’s products. This means ByteDance is on track for a war for AI talent on par with the Google and Facebooks of the world. ByteDance is looking to fill between 40,000 and 100,000 new jobs as of April, 2020.
Its market share in mobile search and advertising is sky rocketing with the global success of the TikTok app. ByteDance has a better dynasty of apps and new plans than Facebook’s Big three apps.
How TikTok (Douyin) syncs with China’s digital currency will be very interesting to watch. TikTok is where the young influencer wants to be, as outside of YouTube it’s now the biggest game in town for the world of digital transformation.
How popular is TikTok? Douyin’s international version, TikTok, is the third-most downloaded nongame app in the world, behind only WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. ByteDance is also a show of positivity in a world in dire need of hope given the pandemic’s impact on social media.
Its meme-centric culture is way more viral than Facebook Groups stuffed with echo bubbles. Facebook’s new “caring-heart” emoji is a rather pathetic attempt at trying to remain positive in times when its ad revenue must be drying up.
China understands that ByteDance is its global consumer play and in the 2025 to 2035 period, its AI play. The State and CCP can’t afford to let ByteDance lose in its war against Facebook for eyeballs. This means if it cannot acquire Snapchat or Reddit it can and will clone them.
If it cannot acquire Spotify, it can acquire the likes of Mogu or Bilibili. Essentially ByteDance can become the generational GenZ tech company that Facebook was for Millennials.
The talent of places like Taiwan, Singapore, India and Australia will flock to work for ByteDance. The world’s most valuable tech startup is recruiting people for 10,000 open positions, of which about a third are high-level research or software coding jobs, according to an internal website provided to staff for referrals and shared with Bloomberg. Young people won’t want to work at Google or Facebook anymore, but up-and-coming companies like ByteDance, Tesla or Stripe.
As Alibaba shocks the world with Cloud adoption in the early 2020s, ByteDance will continue to succeed in its apps-AI ecosystem. Think about it, once completed, the company will boast roughly the same number of employees as Alibaba.
As young people swoon for its silly and educational video stories, TikTok will continue to grow in influence. This is also thanks to investors like Japan’s Softbank Vision Fund who are likely to continue to invest in ByteDance with its consumer-AI technology trajectory of global leadership.
ByteDance is the existential threat to Facebook. If Mark Zuckerberg won via good timing and ruthlessness, ByteDance’s founder wins via product genius and superior innovation chops. In this case, it makes all the difference in how the two technology Titans line up in the 2020s.
By 2030, the Last Futurist expects ByteDance to be worth more than Facebook’s empire in terms of total market cap. This in spite of Facebook’s 7 year head start in the mobile and digital transformation revolution.
ByteDance is as secretive as Apple and arguably as innovative at Amazon. But its location in China means its user base automatically scales very well in Asia proper. Zhang Yiming rarely gives interviews or speaks in public, but is a product-focused tech genius. How ByteDance scales in global advertising marketshare alone means the world is its oyster in the 2020s.
Consider this, Tiger Global said in the letter that it estimated Bytedance would grab 19% of China’s online advertising market this year and that the company captured about 4% of the market in 2017. China’s increasing importance in the consumer driven recovery from Covid-19 means some Chinese tech companies will scale faster than their Western counterparts. For instance, total digital ad spending in China is expected to reach $81 billion this year, according to the market research firm eMarketer.
ByteDance isn’t just a tech unicorn, it’s the heir apparent to Facebook globally. ByteDance is also more AI-driven than any other social media company outside of Google’s YouTube. By 2025, ByteDance could have AI-talent comparable to that of Facebook, if all goes well. ByteDance is a Gen-Z phenomenon that the world won’t be able to contain, even as it uses its facial recognition technology to mine sensitive data.
Like rival Tencent Holding’s stranglehold on gaming and the one app to rule them all, WeChat, ByteDance’s social media channels have seen their usage spike after the Covid-19 pandemic confined millions of people to their homes. The apps ByteDance creates will change the world more than all other apps combined in the 2020s. This is because ByteDance will have the budget and vision to scale them accordingly.
ByteDance’s algorithm will in the end be of more use to humanity than what Facebook did to the internet. There’s literally nothing Mark Zuckerberg can do to avoid this. ByteDance will likely go IPO in 2021, and will be the most successful IPO of that year. Unknown to the rest of the world, ByteDance is the smartest AI startup in the world as of 2020.