The big picture: TikTok this week eclipsed a major milestone as the ByteDance-owned video sharing and social networking service now has more than one billion monthly active users. Still, they’ve got some ground to make up if they want to be number one overall. Facebook in its most recent quarter said it had 2.90 billion monthly active users, an increase of seven percent year over year.

TikTok’s roots date back to late 2016 when ByteDance launched a short-form video app called in China. The app, which was developed in just 200 days, was soon rebranded as Douyin and within one year, had already amassed more than 100 million users.

While impressive, ByteDance’s founder knew that if they didn’t expand globally, someone else would swoop in to cater to the roughly 80 percent of Internet users that reside outside of China. This prompted ByteDance to go out and acquire North America’s most popular video-sharing app,, for $1 billion and create a new platform known as TikTok.

ByteDance’s new app took the world by storm. In 2018, TikTok passed Instagram, YouTube and Facebook to become the most downloaded app of the year and has continued to gain market share ever since, despite some serious privacy concerns along the way. Lucrative licensing deals with both Sony Music and Warner Music Group at the end of last year only helped grow TikTok’s user base.

Oddly enough, ByteDance continues to operate Douyin and TikTok as separate platforms despite sharing a nearly identical user interface. This separation likely has to do with strict Chinese censorship laws, and / or privacy concerns in other parts of the world.

Image credit Cleyton Ewerton