In brief: TikTok owner ByteDance has a valuation of over $140 billion if you go by CB Insights, and for the past four years it's been creating education products. As the world shifts to e-learning, the Chinese company sees an opportunity for a smart lamp to complete its suite of education products.
ByteDance is known for making one of the fastest growing social media apps, TikTok. However, the company is now expanding into the consumer hardware market, with the announcement of a gadget aimed at facilitating online education.
The Chinese company's first hardware product comes in the form of Dali Smart Work -- a lamp equipped with a touchscreen and two cameras. It looks very much like a phone integrated into a lamp, and it's aimed at parents who would like to supervise their children from afar. This way, they can assist them in finishing their homework via an app, but the lamp also features digital assistant designed for that very purpose.
ByteDance says Dali emits a lot less blue light than a traditional lamp and has been certified for "national AA-level professional eye protection." Other than that, it doesn't appear to be a better solution than using a smartphone and a stand, but at $119, it's cheaper than other smart displays like Amazon's Echo Show, Facebook's Portal, or Google's Nest Hub.
Dali is currently only available in China, where ByteDance runs a number of education services including GoGoKid -- a website where native English speakers can tutor Chinese kids -- and Qingbei, which is a virtual classroom software used by thousands of schools. To get an idea how big this is, ByteDance just formed a dedicated arm called Dali Education that currently employs over 10,000 people.
It might seem strange, but ByteDance founder and CEO Zhang Yiming explained "we started to develop interests in the education industry very early on. It's an industry with great innovation potential and social value. The brand independence of Dali Education is just the beginning of a long journey." This signals the company's interest to expand well beyond the realm of video-sharing and music-sharing social networks.
In the meantime, ByteDance is still suck between a rock and a hard place as its TikTok app faces a set of US restrictions that will come into effect on November 12. In the coming months, it will have to spin it off into a new company called TikTok Global that will be almost entirely owned by American entities such as Oracle, Walmart, and several venture capital firms. This will supposedly create 25,000 US jobs and contribute more than $5 billion in tax dollars annually.
The last part is important, as TikTok Global plans to create an educational program to "develop and deliver an AI-driven online video curriculum," which sits perfectly in line with ByteDance's Dali Education efforts.