Toutiao with Matthew Brennan

Toutiao with Matthew Brennan
Matthew Brennan joined us in a fascinating conversation to discuss Toutiao, a mobile news app with AI built in & their surprise rise to prominence without BAT influence.

Matthew Brennan from China Channel joined us in a fascinating conversation on Toutiao, one of the new emerging mobile apps focused on AI and their applications in news and information. We discussed the chronology, product & services and business models behind Toutiao’s rise among the 2nd wave of technology giants (Toutiao, Meituan-Dianping & Didi) in China and how their surprised rise has no influence from the BAT in China.

Here are the interesting show notes and links to the discussion (with time-stamps included):

  • Matthew Brennan, Co-founder of China Channel dot co (, @MattyBGooner , Linkedin, Wechat:Yowdy-CQ) [0:40]
    • Re-introduction
    • Since our last conversation, what have you been up to? [1:23]
  • Toutiao (Wikipedia, mobile app) [2:20]
    • Jinri-Toutiao (Today’s Headlines) is a mobile-web app that recommends personalized information to users based on artificial intelligence. As of Jan 2017, they have 700M users, & 175 monthly active users. Over 78 million people use Toutiao for an average time of 76 minutes on a daily basis, resulting in 1.3 billion articles read every day.
    • Can you discuss the vision and mission of Toutiao? [3:11]
    • How does a publisher join Toutiao to publish news similar to Wechat’s Official Accounts? [4:02]
    • Can you describe the chronology of how Toutiao rise to dominance? Founder: Zhang Yiming, formerly from Microsoft [4:57]
    • What are the interesting products and services of Toutiao? [8:58]
    • Does Toutiao connect to other major logins such as Wechat or QQ login? [11:40]
    • What is the user behavior for Toutiao like?  [12:19]
    • How do they generate revenue and monetize their activities? Advertising similar to Facebook and Ecommerce with a partnership with JD dot com [14:35]
    • In your opinion, with Tencent investing heavily in AI and Wechat, will they directly compete with Toutiao at some point? [18:59]
    • Who are the investors behind Toutiao? Weibo, Sequoia, Yuri Milner (DST). [21:30]
    • Where do you see Toutiao’s focus be in the next 12 months? [23:08]

Podcast Information:

The show is hosted by Bernard Leong (@bleongcw) and are sponsored by Ideal Workspace (Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn) with their new Altizen Desk on Indiegogo (Twitter, Facebook, Medium). Also check out Ideal Workspace’s new standing desk, Altizen and sign up for their mailing list. Sound credits for the intro music: Taro Iwashiro, “The Beginning” from Red Cliff Soundtrack.