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TikTok's AI Strategy: ByteDance's Global Ambitions

Published 31 May 2019
Reference 6489
Region Global
Length 16 page(s)
Language English
Prizes & Awards

2023 The Case Centre Best-selling Case in the Category 'Entrepreneurship'

Winner of The Case Centre Awards and Competitions 2021 in the Category 'Entrepreneurship'


ByteDance, the Chinese company behind TikTok, the viral short video app, made headline news when its valuation jumped to $75 billion, surpassing Uber ($72 billion) to become the world’s most valuable start-up. ByteDance leveraged capabilities in consumer-focused artificial intelligence (AI) to become one of the first Chinese Big Tech digital platforms to succeed outside China, notably in the US and India. The case focuses on the strategic value of predictive AI on the supply and demand sides of digital content, illustrating how AI-based tools enable the production of viral content and customized delivery and consumption. It compares the Chinese and US approach to AI, drawing a distinction between their implementation and innovative capabilities. Other issues include the internationalization of digital platforms, notably the management of inappropriate and illegal content in the respective institutional settings, and China’s unique approach to content filtering that combines AI with human censors. Competition with China’s other Big Tech companies - Tencent and Baidu - is also discussed. The case can also be used as a general introduction to artificial intelligence, including a brief history of AI (Section 2), categorization of AI applications (Section 3), and a comparison of AI in China and the US (Section 4).

Teaching objectives

This case teaches important lessons about artificial Intelligence, digital entrepreneurship, digital strategy, managing user-generated content, the globalization of big tech companies, and emerging markets.

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • AI
  • Digital Entrepreneurship
  • Digital Strategy
  • Machine Learning
  • Emerging markets
  • User-generated Content
  • Platforms
  • Video
  • Mobile Apps
  • China
  • India
  • United States
  • Big Tech
  • Q31819