Chinese Media Startup Toutiao to Purchase for $800M-$1B

Alan Olson
November 12, 2017

"It was organic growth - word-of-mouth",'s North American president Alex Hofmann told Billboard previous year, when the app was adding 13 million users a month.

As one of the fastest growing tech startups in China, Bytedance has been given valuations up to as high as $20 billion. It also has a live-streaming platform called

Toutiao's purchase of Flipagram,'s primary rival in the self-shot-video-accompanied-by-music market, gives Bytedance dominance in soundtracks to personal videos.

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ByteDance's Toutiao app uses AI to analyse readers' habits and send them customised content. The negotiations broke down over financial deal terms and "general skittishness" about selling to a company whose revenue numbers and user stats were hard to assess, per the report. The startup would gain a huge United States presence, with the addition of's 100 million-strong contingent of lip-synching video performers to Toutiao's own 120 million readers and viewers. Bloomberg has reported it is also looking to make interactive content for a younger audience. The app's cofounders, Alex Zhu and Louis Yang, will join Bytedance and will continue running as an independent platform. Its parent company was valued at more than $20 billion, according to a person familiar with the matter, on par with Elon Musk's SpaceX.

Started by Zhang Yiming (張一鳴), it is on track to pull in about US$2.5 billion in revenue this year, largely from advertising. Bytedance wants to become a global success by bringing its artificial intelligence tools to the rest of the world.

The company behind China's hottest news app is buying one of the country's biggest social media platforms. The company recently bought aggregation platform News Republic from Cheetah Mobile, which is also an investor in, for Dollars 86.6 million.

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