Last week, audio clips from an internal Q&A session at Facebook were leaked and published by the Verge. These meetings have historically always been private. In what I think was the right move, the company then decided to publicly livestream a subsequent Q&A session — you know, to show that they had nothing to hide.
The media tended to focus on Mark Zuckerberg’s comments about the threat of Facebook being broken up by regulators. #BreakUpBigTech. Lots of people are also attempting to glean what this leak might signal about the company’s current corporate culture. But there are lots of other interesting soundbites.
Here’s an excerpt from Zuckerberg about the Chinese social media app, TikTok:
So yeah. I mean, TikTok is doing well. One of the things that’s especially notable about TikTok is, for a while, the internet landscape was kind of a bunch of internet companies that were primarily American companies. And then there was this parallel universe of Chinese companies that pretty much only were offering their services in China. And we had Tencent who was trying to spread some of their services into Southeast Asia. Alibaba has spread a bunch of their payment services to Southeast Asia. Broadly, in terms of global expansion, that had been pretty limited, and TikTok, which is built by this company Beijing ByteDance, is really the first consumer internet product built by one of the Chinese tech giants that is doing quite well around the world. It’s starting to do well in the US, especially with young folks. It’s growing really quickly in India. I think it’s past Instagram now in India in terms of scale. So yeah, it’s a very interesting phenomenon.
TikTok now has over 1.4 billion installs outside of China according to TechCrunch. And in the first half of this year, it supposedly booked more than $7 billion in revenue (though most of it came from China). The company is also saying that it posted its first profit in June of this year.
All of this is, indeed, “a very interesting phenomenon.”
But it’s even more interesting because this is probably the first consumer-facing Chinese internet product with massive global adoption. And it has Facebook paying attention. They’re now the ones who have to play copycat — their version of TikTok is called Lasso. Of course, it’s not nearly as popular.