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BIZ IN GRAPHICS | Meet the people behind the most downloaded social app amid COVID-19 outbreak

The ambitious leadership behind ByteDance is planning international expansion while leaving the China market to trusted hands who created Douyin and TikTok.

Even before the COVID-19 outbreak hit the world, TikTok has already taken the world by storm with runaway success, topping app download charts in many countries. Now with the pandemic crisis left hundreds of millions homebound resorting to online entertainment ranging from streaming, gaming to short videos, further precipitated TikTok’s rise.

According to the latest report by app analytics service Sensor Tower, TikTok, together with its Chinese version Douyin, has topped the chart of the most downloaded non-game app since January this year, with 46%, 96.5%, and 98.4% year-over-year growth respectively in January, February, and March.

TikTok hit 115.2 million downloads worldwide in March 2020, 50% higher than WhatsApp, the second on the list. Meanwhile, it ranked third internationally on the list of top-grossing non-game apps of the month, beating aggressive competitors from streaming video sectors like Netflix and Disney+, as SensorTower data showed.

Given that TikTok came into the world stage from 2018 on after its merger with Musical.ly, its rapid rise certainly warrants a close look at the team behind it.

TikTok’s parent company ByteDance was founded in 2012 by Chinese serial entrepreneur Zhang Yiming. The company now ranks second on Hurun’s Global Unicorn List 2019 with an estimated valuation of RMB 500 billion (USD 70.8 billion).

While trying to branch out to as many sectors as it could domestically, ByteDance is also eyeing global opportunities. “The app factory” is planning to recruit as many as 10,000 new members globally in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic crisis, KrAsia reported earlier.

In mid-March, founder and CEO Zhang Yiming promoted the former TikTok CEO as the top leader of China market, while announcing that he himself would focus on the firm’s expansion in overseas markets.

“Our goal is not only to establish a global business but also to build up an organization, which is international, diverse and inclusive,” Zhang Yiming said in a note the company published. “Through a better organization, we hope to unleash every ByteDancer’s potential and creativity to serve a worldwide audience.”

Now let’s take a closer look at the persons behind TikTok and how they’ve accomplished the success today.