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China’s Toutiao to Further Beef up Global Presence in 2018

The company was on a shopping spree last year, acquiring Musical.ly, News Republic and Flipgram.

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China’s Toutiao to Further Beef up Global Presence in 2018

  • Toutiao boasts of 200 million daily active users across its various content platforms.

  • The expanding tech giant is China’s fifth most valuable startups, after Didi, Xiaomi, Meituan-Dianping, and Lu.com

  • Toutiao senior VP: half of the revenue is expected to come from overseas markets in 5 years.


Toutiao, China’s largest news aggregator, is taking globalization 100 percent seriously. ZHANG Yiming, founder and CEO of the rising tech giant, said the keyword for the company in 2018 would be globalization at the company’s sixth year-end gala held on March 9 in Beijing, where Toutiao headquartered.

He also announced the company’s vision to become a global content creation and communication platform.

Founded in 2012 in Beijing, Toutiao’s ambition to expand globally dates back to as early as 2015, when it launched the English language counterpart of its flagship app Today’s Headlines to target North American as well as Brazilian audience.

And it’s shopping spree last year serves as a solid testament to its global expansion avidity to take further steps out of home turf. Toutiao did a series of deals by acquiring the lip-synching app Musical.ly, news aggregator News Republic and video creation app Flipgram.

By either rolling out its own products or M&As, the Chinese company has established its presence in Japan, India, SE Asia, Europe, North America and South America.

“Google is a company without borders. I hope Toutiao will be as border-less as Google,” ZHANG once said in an interview.

Many of Toutiao’s subsidiary apps are doing particularly well outside of China. Tik Tok, a short video streaming platform, was top-ranked at Japan’s Apple App Store for a long time and was a hit in Thailand. TopBuzz, its US-facing news aggregator, was ranked as the #2 news app in Apple App Store, even ahead of Reddit, Fox News and CNN, noticed Quartz this January.

AI-powered Content Empire

Image credit to 123rf.com.cn.

The content empire of Toutiao is highly driven by its edge in AI. The flagship news aggregator matches an audience with contents that best suit the audience’s interests as determined by the algorithm.

According to LIU Zhen, senior VP at Toutiao, the company’s globalization relies on two critical missions: 1) providing AI-related technological supports to its local partners and 2) partnering with local content makers. Liu told media late last year that 50 percent of the company’s revenue is expected to come from overseas markets in 5 years and 90 percent of Toutiao content would be moderated by AI.

The company claims it is partnering with over 100 million content creators from around the globe, and providing content to over 200 million daily active users across its platforms. Users of its flagship news app Toutiao, or Today’s Headlines, spend on average 74 minutes a day on the app. The popularity makes Toutiao one of the most valuable startups on CB Insights’ unicorn list.

At the gala held on Friday, ZHANG also mentioned the company attempts to be held accountable for cooperate social responsibilities, including integrity, responsibility and cooperation. Chinese regulators have previously tightened their grip over online content and Toutiao is prone to that change. Toutiao’s news app was asked to rectify and delete vulgar content in last August and again in December.

Reade more about Toutiao: 

Toutiao Strikes Licensing Deal with BuzzFeed, Paving Its Way for Global Expansion

Toutiao Acquired AR-Based Selfie App Faceu to Keep Diversifying

Toutiao Reportedly to Produce Drama and Variety Show, Adding Youku and iQiyi to Competitors List

Editor: Ben Jiang