Behind TikTok Is a Chinese Tech Giant Fueling the World’s Hottest App


TikTok is powered by sophisticated artificial intelligence that predicts what people want to see next. The app goes beyond even the systems used by Facebook Inc. or Snapchat. TikTok studies usage closely and considers hundreds of data points including what websites you’re browsing and how you type, down to keystroke rhythms and patterns.

The algorithms were developed at ByteDance Ltd., TikTok’s Chinese parent company and the most valuable startup in the world. In episode two of Foundering: The TikTok Story, we look at how ByteDance founder and Chief Executive Officer Zhang Yiming fundamentally changed how a generation consumes media on their phones.

Zhang started his company in a small Beijing apartment and used American venture capital money to buy up startups and music rights in the U.S. In his first-ever interview with Western media, he revealed his unique management style. “Unlimited salary for unlimited talent,” Zhang told Bloomberg in 2017.

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