ByteDance is frequently framed as the originator of TikTok, but it’s so much more. The app factory’s many creations have made ByteDance one of the most competitive tech companies to ever be founded in China. Naturally, its leaders had eyes on replicating that success abroad.
The road was rocky. App after app failed, their algorithms lifted from platforms that had six-figure DAU counts in China didn’t produce the same results elsewhere. There were leadership changes for the company’s international business unit and lawsuits related to misused intellectual property.
User acquisition only generated losses, because ByteDance’s playbook in China was no longer valid overseas. More importantly, before the emergence of TikTok, ByteDance was unable to crack the near-duopoly of Facebook and Google in online ads.
For years, ByteDance’s quest to establish itself as a multinational company was an uphill battle. Check out part one in a series that charts the company’s path to becoming the first truly global Chinese tech firm.
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