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The mesmerizing logo of the TikTok app is familiar to young smartphone users all over the world -- but its Chinese parent company, ByteDance, is a virtual black box.   © Illustration by Yuko Kai
The Big Story

Inside ByteDance, the $75bn unicorn behind TikTok

The Chinese social media upstart has captivated users and alarmed regulators

COCO LIU and YIFAN YU, Nikkei staff writers | China

HONG KONG/PALO ALTO, U.S. -- Fabian Ouwehand was an early convert to Douyin. While studying Chinese in Shenzhen in 2017, Ouwehand, from Leiden in the Netherlands, saw brash advertisements for the video-sharing social network flooding the city. He was convinced to try it.

As soon as one video finished, the app would suggest another. The recommendations were so effective, he recalled, that time vanished; he clicked and clicked, and could easily lose half an hour at once. "I got hooked after watching it for the first few seconds, and just wanted to know what happened next," he said.

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