You may not have heard of ByteDance, but you probably know your red-hot video application, TikTok, which was swallowed Musical.ly in August. The Beijing-based company also has a popular news aggregator called Jinri Toutiao, which means "headlines today" in Chinese, and the application has just assigned a new CEO.
At a company event on Saturday, Chen Lin, an early ByteDance employee, made his first appearance as the new CEO of Toutiao. That means that the creator of Toutiao Zhang Yiming gave the helm to Chen, who previously led the product management for the news application.
Zhang will not go anywhere. A spokesperson for the company told TechCrunch that it remains the CEO of ByteDance, which operates a large number of media applications in addition to TikTok and Toutiao to fit in with China's technological giants Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent.
The history of ByteDance began when Zhang created Toutiao in 2012. The news application collects articles and videos from external vendors and uses AI algorithms to customize content for users. Toutiao flew off the shelves and soon began to incubate new media products, including a question and answer platform such as Quora and TikTok, known as Douyin in China.
The delivery may indicate the need for Zhang to backtrack in his daily operations. Invented and supervised the strategies for ByteDance, which has increased in the best valued startup in the world. The company spokesman did not provide further details on the reorganization.
Toutiao is installed in more than 240 million unique monthly devices, making it the main news aggregator in China, according to data analysis firm iResearch. TikTok and Douyin collectively command 500 million monthly active users worldwide, while Musical.ly has a user base of 100 million, the company previously announced.
The success of Toutiao has driven Tencent, who is best known for creating WeChat and controlling a large part of the Chinese gaming market, to build his own AI-driven news application. Toutiao's fledgling advertising business has also stepped on the toes of Baidu, which generates most of its revenue from search ads. More recently, Toutiao came to the territory of Alibaba with an e-commerce function.
In Saturday's event, Chen also shared updates that point to Toutiao's growing ambition. On the one hand, goliath news is working to help content providers take advantage of a set of tools, for example, e-commerce sales and virtual livestreaming gifts. The movement is prepared to help Toutiao retain the quality creators as the race for digital eyeball time in China intensifies.
Toutiao also recently launched its first wave of "mini programs," or simplified versions of native applications that operate within super applications like Toutiao. Tencent has shown that the system is a great traffic controller after the WeChat mini-programs crossed two million daily users.
Finally, Toutiao said he will take more proactive measures to monitor what users consume. In recent months, the news application has come into conflict with media regulators who attacked it for hosting illegal and "inappropriate" content. Douyin has faced similar criticism. While ByteDance prides itself on automated distribution, the company has shown to be willing to comply with government rules by hiring thousands of human censors and using AI to filter the content.