The ByteDance Group with Matthew Brennan

The ByteDance Group with Matthew Brennan
Matthew Brennan discuss the Bytedance Group, an AI tech company from China & why they are poised to take on Facebook globally.

Matthew Brennan, co-founder of China Channel and host of China Tech Talk, closes the Bytedance trilogy of Toutiao and Douyin with the Bytedance Group. We discuss the mission and vision of the Bytedance Group, an artificial intelligence technology company and where they are after raising US$3B from SoftBank recently. We discuss the product portfolio of Bytedance beyond Toutiao and Douyin, their business model of advertising which drives high profitability and why they are poised to take on Facebook in a global scale.

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

  • Matthew Brennan, Co-founder of China Channel and host of China Tech Talk podcast (, @mbrennanchina , Linkedin, Wechat:Yowdy-CQ) [0:20]
  • The Bytedance Group [5:00]
    • We have done previous episodes on Jinri Toutiao, a smart news app and Douyin aka Tik Tok, a short video sharing app. They are all under an entity which we called Bytedance Group. Can you describe the mission and vision of Bytedance Group and where they are now? [5:25]
    • They have recently raised US$3B from SoftBank at a US$75B. Are they still raising any more money for the group or going IPO? [7:35]
    • Can you offer an introduction to Zhang Yiming, the legendary founder of Bytedance? [8:50]
    • Other than Zhang Yiming, who are the other key people within his management team which we should watch for? [10:29]
    • Similarity of Zhang Yiming & Mark Zuckerberg with Bytedance and Facebook following the ownership of mobile apps (Tik Tok vs Instagram) and reliance of advertising as a business model. [11:42]
    • Bytedance has the most impressive record of not being funded by Tencent and Alibaba and the market cap for the company by the recent round from SoftBank Vision Fund exceeds Baidu now, how did they manage to do that? [12:30]
    • Should Bytedance replace Baidu in the BAT axis given that Baidu is not performing well against Alibaba and Tencent? [15:17]
    • What are the products within the portfolio of Bytedance Group? [17:00]
      • Douyin/TikTok,
      • Jinri-Toutiao/Today’s Headlines
      • Xigua/Watermelon – long form video sharing app
      • Huoshan/Virgo
      • Leihan Duanzi (has been shut down by Chinese app)
      • Musically (acquired by Bytedance and the original innovator to Tik Tok now)
    • What are the major revenues for Bytedance Group? [20:00]
    • What are the major risks for Bytedance Group such as Chinese government regulation? [22:11]
    • Why did Bytedance not bring their ability in content moderation out of China and expand in Southeast Asia and India instead of adopting the same playbook like Facebook? [24:25]
    • Bytedance is coming up as a major competitor against Facebook compared to Tencent. How have they performed outside China so far, for example in India and Southeast Asia? [26:11]
    • What are the things which we look forward to from Bytedance Group in 2019? [27:50]
  • Closing [29:29]

Podcast Information:

The show is hosted by Bernard Leong (@bernardleong & weibo) and are sponsored by Ideal Workspace (Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn) with their new Altizen Desk (Twitter, Facebook, Medium). Sound credits for the intro music: Taro Iwashiro, “The Beginning” from Red Cliff Soundtrack and this episode is edited by Carol Yin, and co-produced by Carol Yin and Bernard Leong.