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David and Goliath: Bytedance takes on WeChat

Digitally China

28-02-2019 • 28 minutos

In a country where WeChat rules supreme, Bytedance is attempting the impossible. Last month,the Beijing-based startup launched its own social networking app called Duoshan.


It wouldn’t be the first time Bytedance has made larger, more established tech companies nervous. It runs TikTok, a video-sharing app that has quickly grown popular worldwide -- a rare feat for a Chinese tech firm -- inspiring Facebook to launch its own competing app called Lasso.


The startup has also already started butting heads with Tencent. Last year, the heads of both companies became embroiled in a public spat on WeChat, where the Bytedance CEO accused Tencent of copying Douyin -- the Chinese version of TikTok -- and blocking it in WeChat to slow its growth. A few months later in a separate case, Tencent sued the startup for 1 RMB ($0.15) for defamation.


As large tech firms solidify their monopolies around the world -- Google dominates search, Tencent owns social -- it is becoming increasingly difficult for newcomers to challenge tech giants on their own turf. So will Duoshan be successful? And is Bytedance the company that can finally break Tencent’s hold on social?


In this episode, we’ll discuss:

  • The promising features of Duoshan -- and their disadvantages
  • China’s younger generation and the appeal of disappearing videos or “stories”
  • Bytedance’s AI edge
  • Bytedance’s success with TikTok and foray into gaming, another important business for Tencent


Guest: Ashley Dudarenok, founder of Alarice International, a Hong Kong-based digital marketing agency that focuses on Chinese social media.

Hosts: Eva Xiao and Tom Xiong

Production: Jacob Loven


Digitally China is a subjective but independent depiction of the tech scene in China. Audio clips used in the podcast have not been distorted nor taken out of context and are included for commentary and educational purposes and thus shall be considered “Fair Use”. Digitally China ispowered by RADII (www.radiichina.com), an independent media platform exploring China from all angles.


Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

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