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Who owns TikTok?

The video-sharing app has become a massive social network.

tiktok logo with blurred smartphone in the background
Image: KnowTechie

TikTok has blown up into one of the most popular social media platforms in the world. The platform launched in 2016 and already has more than a billion monthly users.

TikTok took the world by storm with its innovative platform based on short-form videos and an algorithm that feeds users what they want to see.

Since the start of its rise to popularity, TikTok has spawned several clones. Things like Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts were designed directly after TikTok’s successful model.

But who owns TikTok? Is it another product from the major tech companies that we all know? Or did TikTok come from somewhere else?

So, who owns TikTok?

Short answer: ByteDance

TikTok is owned by the Chinese-based tech company, ByteDance. ByteDance is based in Beijing, China, but the company now has offices worldwide.

ByteDance was founded back in 2012 by software engineer Zhang Yiming. The company launched several apps using big data algorithms to deliver curated content to its readers.

bytedance logo on blurred background
Image: KnowTechie

The company launched its original app in August 2012. The app, called Toutiat (“headlines”), organized news stories using algorithms based on users’ preferences.

The company later acquired Flipagram and and merged the two to create TikTok. Yiming acted as ByteDance’s CEO until 2021, when co-founder Liang Rubo took over as head of the company.

Is ByteDance selling TikTok?

Short answer: No, not that we know of.

When former President Donald Trump was in office, he was an outspoken critic of TikTok and its China-based ownership.

The former president called for ByteDance to sell TikTok, or he would ban the app in the United States. ByteDance was in talks to sell TikTok to Microsoft shortly after Trump threatened a ban.

However, the Trump administration eventually lost interest in TikTok, and the concern over who owns TikTok seems to have lessened.

trump bans tiktok
Image: KnowTechie

After President Joe Biden took over, his administration scrapped Trump’s TikTok ban plans. However, the administration committed to completing its own investigation.

The results of the investigation from the Biden administration have yet to come to the light. So there still could be potential for a forced sale of the platform.

For now, TikTok is still owned and controlled by ByteDance. But it seems like the future is still very much up in the air.

TikTok continues to thrive

Ultimately, TikTok is crushing it, and its owner ByteDance is reaping the rewards. Even though some people are worried about its ownership, it isn’t keeping many of them from using the platform.

And with the company threatening Google Search, we don’t see TikTok going anywhere for a long time.

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