Zhang Yiming, The Founder Of Tiktok, Started His Company In 4 Bedroom Apartment. Now It Is Worth More Than $300 Billion


Zhang Yiming

Every few years, a new app changes the way we interact with social media. TikTok, the video-sharing social media network, is such an app with more than 3 billion downloads.


It’s a hit with the kids. Adults are oblivious to it. However, there is no disputing its popularity.


Whether you like it or not, social media is undergoing a massive migration as new platforms seize the cultural zeitgeist. They provide fresh and interesting ways to interact.


TikTok is one of the world’s most popular social media apps, but little is known about who owns it. TikTok is a very well-liked app with hundreds of millions of users worldwide, and it reportedly received more global downloads in 2022 than Facebook, WhatsApp, Telegram, and Snapchat combined.


Founder of ByteDance, one of China’s biggest internet technology conglomerates, Zhang Yiming created TikTok, which went live in September 2016. The company obtained millions the following year so that it could improve and grow the app.


Zhang has already had an unsuccessful venture when he founded the company. With few resources, he began ByteDance in a four-bedroom apartment. Here’s Zhang Yimig’s story, and how he turned his little startup into a shining example for many.




Zhang Yiming is a Chinese businessman who was born in Longyan City, Fujian Province, in April 1982. He attended Nankai University in Tianjin in 2001, where he majored in microelectronics before moving on to software engineering.


Four years later, he graduated and met the woman who would become his wife at the time. After a year, in 2006, Zhang was hired by the travel website Kuxun as its first engineer.


He started out as a typical engineer, but by the second year, he was in control of 40 to 50 employees who were in charge of back-end technology and other tasks involving products.


The skills Zhang developed at Kuxun helped him learn the fundamentals of a startup. His mastery of learning techniques assisted him in transitioning from a young entrepreneur into one of the decade’s leading leaders.


Zhang left Kuxun in 2008 to work for Microsoft, although he felt constrained by the company’s business standards. He quickly left Microsoft to work for the failing startup Fanfou.


Zhang launched his first firm, 99fang.com, a property search portal, in 2009. He left the company three years later, but it inspired Zhang to become an entrepreneur.

Zhang Yiming



He created ByteDance, a Beijing-based company that provides news aggregation services, in 2012.


In 2012, Zhang noticed that Chinese smartphone users were having difficulty finding relevant information in mobile apps and that the search firm Baidu was incorporating unidentified advertising into search results.


Zhang had the ambition to push relevant material to users by using artificial intelligence to provide suggestions, which led to the creation of ByteDance.


The company originated in a four-bedroom Beijing apartment where the crew initially lived and worked. However, Zhang stated that the space is in good shape for a startup, and the surrounding area is gorgeous.


Zhang, a driven entrepreneur, had the phrase “little space, great goal.” The team had great ambitions and a big vision even in their tiny flat, which featured a 10 square meter room as its largest room.


His company’s aim was not limited to China, as most entrepreneurs are; he intended to extend the company globally. Most venture capitalists, however, did not share this perspective.


Despite numerous tries, he was unable to acquire funding until Susquehanna International Group, seeing the project’s promise, invested in the startup.


ByteDance debuted the Toutiao news app in August 2012 and gained over 13 million daily users in less than two years. Zhang sought to establish a news platform powered by artificial intelligence that would be distinct from China’s search engine Baidu.


Zhang’s managerial approach at ByteDance was inspired by organizations like Microsoft and Google in the United States. It included bi-monthly town hall meetings and prohibited staff from referring to him as ‘boss’ or ‘CEO,’ as is customary in China.




ByteDance released their video-sharing software TikTok (also known as Douyin in China) in September 2015 with little popularity. With Gen Z and millennials, the product was an immediate success.


In the ensuing years, it gained popularity all over the world. A year later, ByteDance paid $800 million for Musical.ly, a Chinese social media business, and integrated it into TikTok. The company is now valued at $75 billion, according to Pitchbook, making it the largest privately held corporation in the world.


The corporation also owns a number of social networking apps that are only available in China. TikTok has surpassed Snapchat as the most popular non-gaming iOS app in the United States, according to Business Insider in September 2021.


More than 1 billion people have downloaded the app, making it one of the most used social networks among American teenagers. Zhang created the majority of the movies on Tiktok in its early days. Later, he asked his employees to create TikTok videos as well.


He made it mandatory for members of the management team to create their own TikTok videos and to receive a particular number of ‘likes’. Otherwise, they must perform push-ups. This stage also helped him understand how to improve the app based on his and his workers’ TikTok experiences.


The leadership style described by Zhang’s subordinates as “soft-spoken yet charismatic, logical yet passionate, young yet wise”

Zhang Yiming



Users can upload already filmed films to TikTok or quickly and easily record fun and innovative videos in the 9:16 format.


These videos have a maximum runtime of 15 or 60 seconds. They may be optionally accompanied by music, given filters, and subjected to aural and visual effects processing. You can choose to share the videos with everyone on your profile or only your friends. They can be found via hashtags.


Users don’t need to register to view the content. You must register in order to like, comment on, share, or publish your own posts. Members are able to write messages and follow one another.


The early days were dominated by comedy videos, tiny dance routines, and lip-syncing. In the interim, the material is diversifying steadily and, with the help of manuals and instructional films, is also advancing into the serious business space. TikTok material just scratches the surface because of the short video length, which is why amusement is obviously the main focus.




A multi-million dollar advertising effort on social networks and collaboration with well-known celebrities, among other things, helped the app gain a high degree of exposure.


More technical aspects of TikTok are its unique selling proposition and arguably its biggest success factor. Unlike Facebook and Instagram, for instance, the social media app has been employing artificial intelligence (AI) from the start and is totally dependent on it.


Users can access material in their feed right away using AI technology, even if they haven’t yet followed any profiles or interacted with any videos. This results in an extremely satisfying user experience, which in turn raises the amount of interaction above that of other social media platforms.


Users can access material in their feed without having already followed profiles or interacted with videos thanks to AI technology. Because of this, users have a very favorable experience using the platform, which raises engagement levels above those of competing social networks.


Your own material will always be inspired by the AI algorithm, which also makes it simple to spot and capitalize on trends. Challenges frequently stimulate involvement by spreading quickly.


Continuous user-generated content production is aided by frequent feedback from followers and other users, which has the potential to become addictive. The challenges offer an excellent opportunity to boost views and likes while continuing to add to the app’s success.


TikTok attracts a primarily youthful target audience. The legal minimum age is thirteen. Women make up the bulk of users.


Despite its widespread appeal, TikTok continues to garner negative press attention. Even US President Donald Trump attempted to ban TikTok on the grounds of spying on the US market. This does not negate the fact that Zhang Yiming has built something expected and popular.




— Learning Everywhere, every time: Zhang Yiming exemplifies how one should always be learning. From his first employment in Kuxun to his most recent unsuccessful enterprise, 99fang, he never stopped learning. He took what he had learned from others and his own failures and applied it to his most recent business, which was a success.


— Know your audience: Another essential aspect of Zhang Yiming’s success was his understanding of what the younger generation would be seeking. What his target audience finds appealing and what they do not. If you know your target audience well, you will be able to produce something that they will enjoy.


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