Bytedance first made its name with Toutiao, a news aggregator used by hundreds of millions to read and share news. It then expanded rapidly into other areas, most notably with the short-video platform Douyin, which is better known as TikTok outside China. It now boasts more than 20 apps offering AI-targeted content to a young and engaged user base.

These platforms have generated massive audiences that Bytedance is trying to monetise with new business units in e-commerce, online gaming and O2O. This means direct competition with Tencent and Alibaba, although investors haven’t been discouraged, with reports of a huge surge in Bytedance’s valuation in 2021, reaching as much as $400 billion in private market sales as investors bet that Bytedance’s algorithms will match users with a much wider range of fee-paying products and services.

The rapid rise in valuation has seen Bytedance surge past Ant Group in 2021, moving to the summit of WiC’s Top 50 China Unicorn rankings. However, the media was reporting in mid-July 2021 that Bytedance had delayed plans to sell shares in some, or all, of its business units in New York or Hong Kong, following the political row over the Didi IPO in the United States.

The path to an IPO had been blocked for the foreseeable future, the media said, after the Chinese government asked Bytedance to focus on data security risks before pursuing a listing.

Here’s a selection of articles, including what makes Douyin such a success in short-video; how Bytedance first signalled that it wanted to challenge Alibaba in e-commerce; and how Tencent is trying to ward off some of the threat from Bytedance. Like its two rivals, Bytedance had plans to get into fintech too

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