ByteDance Ltd – Navigating the Journey from Viewership to Profit

ByteDance Ltd – Navigating the Journey from Viewership to Profit
Case Code: BSTR645
Case Length: 13 Pages
Period: 2012 - 2018
Pub Date: 2022
Teaching Note: Available
Price: Rs.400
Organization : ByteDance
Industry : Technology & Communications
Countries : China
Themes: Big Data Strategy, Artificial Intelligence, Brand Strategy
ByteDance Ltd – Navigating the Journey from Viewership to Profit
Abstract Case Intro 1 Case Intro 2 Excerpts


The case describes the growth of ByteDance Technology Co Ltd (ByteDance), one of China's largest content platforms, which was founded in 2012 and shot up the rankings to become the world’s biggest startup within 6 years of its inception. The case starts out with a background note on how Zhang Yiming, founder of ByteDance, developed the idea of a news aggregation app powered by artificial intelligence. It then talks about the way ByteDance became a giant with a news site named Jinri Toutiao and with a slew of acquisitions and strategic investments. The case then discusses ByteDance’s mercurial growth and popularity across the globe. Later, the case talks about several issues and challenges faced by the company such as scrutiny of clips on its apps and a backlash online for inappropriate and potentially dangerous content, adding to the regulatory woes. The case ends with the move by SoftBank Group Corp., KKR & Co., and General Atlantic to make a huge investment in ByteDance, an investment which could value the company as high as $75 billion, helping it eclipse Uber Technologies Inc. as the world’s largest startup.


The case is structured to achieve the following teaching objectives:

  • Trace the growth of ByteDance and analyze its growth strategies.
  • Analyze the influence of the network effect on the growth of a social media-based startup
  • Analyze the role of technology like AI in creating innovative products.
  • Suggest how ByteDance should deal with the restrictions imposed by the government.



Network Effect; Business growth; Artificial Intelligence; ByteDance,China Technology; Chinese Startups, social media

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