It’s no secret that the once low-profile news aggregator Toutiao has hit the jackpot in China with a reportedly $22 billion valuation, challenging the dominance of incumbent tech giants BAT. As a relatively latecomer in the industry, it’s amazing that Toutiao spearheaded forays into a variety of areas and yet managed to achieve impressive growth.

The company’s latest effort taps into two of the hottest trends in China’s tech industry: short video and globalization. Toutiao’s parent company ByteDance is officially launching Tik Tok, a music video platform and social network, across Asia, TechNode learned from the company.

Screenshots of Tik Tok (Image credit: Tik Tok)

Designed for the new generation of digital natives and social media creators, Tik Tok allows users to quickly and easily make unique short videos to share with friends and the world. Its special effects include shaking and jiving to hip-hop and electronic music, changing hair color, 3D stickers, and other props. In addition, creators can take their talent to the next level and tap into a massive music library.

Viv Gong, Head of Marketing, Tik Tok, said: “The Tik Tok community is growing rapidly in China and now it’s starting to spread quickly into more global markets. Talented youth across the region have a reason to celebrate, create, and share as making music videos is becoming easier and more fun with advanced technology and a world of Tik Tok supporters to cheer them on.”

If the name “Tik Tok“ doesn’t ring any bells, you might have heard its Chinese name “Douyin” instead, which is already one of the fastest growing apps and one of the most popular music video community in the domestic market. The app is filled with 20-somethings girls coming from first-tier and second-tier cities, making funny faces into their smartphone cameras as they lip sync the lyrics of hit songs.

Douyin is catching up quickly as a red-hot video maker app in the past few months with daily active users surging from 290k to over 1.73 million in four months from April to July this year. In addition to the cool app design and features, a series of smart marketing campaigns contributed to the quick success.

Douyin DAU
DAU of Douyin in April-July, unit: 1 million (Image credit: Jiguang)
Gender and age distribution of Douyin (Image credit: Jiguang)

The app has partnered with Chinese video platform iQIYI to curate the market’s very first and most viewed hip-hop talent show of 2017 and has created an incubator for talent and a fast channel for auditions. Clearly, the company expects the same formula—capitalizing on a pop culture fanbase—to work in overseas markets. Local pop stars from Thailand and Indonesia have been invited to feature their own content on Tik Tok platform.

Even though Toutiao is a news app, investing in short-video product lines makes sense for the firm given that it not only keeps users on the platform as a more engaging media but also add a new channel for advertising.

Tik Tok goes primarily for Asian market at the launch, but it’s reasonable to assume that Asia will be just a stepping stone for its broader globalization plan. This may put the app in direct competition with another China-made short-video editing app that’s already achieved global success. Feeling the pressure from Douyin and other similar apps in Chinese market, has launched a Chinese version called Muse to tap the rising domestic market.

Toutiao disclosed earlier this year that it would invest hundreds of million dollars for the overseas expansion of Douyin, but it seems this is just only part of the firm’s globalization drive. Aside from holding stakes in Dailyhunt and BABE in Indonesia, Toutiao acquired Flipagram, a popular video app in the US, this February. The Flipgram investment might pave roads for Toutiao or Douyin’s expansion to US market, where first saw major success.

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Emma Lee

Emma Lee (Li Xin) was TechNode's e-commerce and new retail reporter until June 2022, when she moved to Sixth Tone to cover technology and consumption. Get in touch with her via or Twitter.

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