ByteDance moves into music streaming, online shopping while distancing itself from China


The Beijing-based company may launch its subscription streaming service in countries including India, Indonesia and Brazil as soon as next month. In the U.S., it’s testing a shopping feature on its TikTok app. Even as it tries to diversify its user base beyond its core markets, however, it’s trying to ensure it is identified less with China, reacting to U.S. scrutiny of the company by limiting the amount of Chinese content on TikTok and discussing a stateside rebrand. (The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Reuters)

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Talking point: TikTok is the first Chinese social-media platform—and first from outside the U.S.—to gain major traction in America, where it’s been downloaded by over 100 million people. That represents only about four per cent of TikTok and Douyin users, and it’s operating at a significant loss in in one of the world’s most important markets. But ByteDance is still looking to assuage U.S. regulators’ concerns about its ties to China because the company’s investors see expansion in the country as key to being able to go public, potentially late next year. At US$75 billion, the firm is one of the most valuable startups in the world. Moving into e-commerce and music streaming puts ByteDance into direct competition with many U.S. Big Tech firms, like Instagram and Apple Music, respectively.