Not many are familiar with the app ByteDance, but almost everyone has heard or, used or been annoyed by the red-hot video app TikTok. TikTok gained popularity after it beat Musical.ly to become the most installed and used app in August. The Beijing-based company, in addition to TikTok, also runs a popular news aggregator which is known as Jinri Toutiao, that translates to “today’s headlines” in Chinese. This app was recently assigned a new CEO.
On Saturday, during a company event, Chen Lin, who has been an employee at ByteDance for a long time, made his first appearance to the event as Toutiao’s new CEO. This meant that Toutiao ’s creator Zhang Yiming handed over the helm to Chen, who was previously the head of the product management for the news app.
One of the spokespeople of the company told TechCrunch that Zhang will remain the CEO of ByteDance, which operates a variety of media apps in addition to TikTok and Toutiao and these apps will compete against China’s tech giants Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent.
The idea of ByteDance started when Zhang created Toutiao in 2012. The news app was used to collect articles and videos from third-party providers and use AI algorithms to personalize the collected content for users. Toutiao further went on to incubate new media products, which included a Quora-like Q&A platform and TikTok, which is also known as Douyin in China.
iResearch performed some data analytics, which revealed that Toutiao has been installed on over 240 million monthly unique devices, which makes it as the top news aggregator in China. TikTok and Douyin collectively receive 500 million monthly active users from around the globe, whereas Musical.ly has a userbase of 100 million, which is small in comparison to TikTok and Douyin. This was announced by the company in the past times.
Toutiao’s success has made Tencent build its own AI-powered news application. Tencent is famous for creating WeChat and for controlling a large chunk of China’s gaming market.
During the event on Saturday, Chen shared updates which hinted at Toutiao’s growing ambition. The news goliath is working towards helping content providers cash in through a suite of tools, like, e-commerce sales and virtual gifts with the help of live streaming.
Toutiao recently launched its first wave of “mini-programs,” which are actually stripped-down versions of native apps that operate inside super apps such as Toutiao. Tencent recently proved that its system is a big traffic driver following WeChat mini-programs which crossed two million daily users.
In conclusion, Toutiao said it would take proactive measures to monitor what the users consume. This was a result of the issue that caused the news app to run afoul of media regulators who called out Toutiao for hosting illegal and “inappropriate” content. Douyin has also faced similar criticisms in the past. ByteDance has an automated distribution, and the company demonstrated its willingness to abide by the rules of the government by hiring thousands of human sensors in addition to using AI to filter out inappropriate content.