TikTok said Monday it has passed 1 billion monthly users. It’s a remarkable number for a platform launched in August 2018 that has been criticized by governments – including the US – who are concerned about the data collection practices of its parent company, Beijing-based ByteDance.
TikTok’s popularity soared during the pandemic, becoming the most downloaded app in the world in Q1 2020, with some 315 million downloads in that quarter alone, according to app analytics company SensorTower.
ByteDance reportedly saw its sales in 2020 more than double the year before, to $34.3 billion. As of launch so far, SensorTower says the number of TikTok installs has reached 3.2 billion, including information from Douyin, the Chinese version of the app. The monthly average number of TikTok users was 25 percent higher in August than in August 2020. In June of this year ByteDance was appreciated at $425 billion.
And other apps, trying to duplicate TikTok’s huge success, created their own short video products. Facebook property Instagram launched Reels last August; Snapchat introduced its in-app TikTok clone Spotlight in November, and even video giant YouTube came in the short form, debuting its YouTube Shorts in the US earlier this year. But TikTok continued to grow; a report earlier this month found that TikTok users spend more time watching the content than YouTube users.
On Monday, TikTok chief executive Veronica Pappas thanked users in a video on TikTok for “making TikTok a truly special place.”
ByteDance has reportedly postponed its plans for an IPO indefinitely amid a crackdown on tech companies by Chinese regulators over the last months. China investigates what it considers anticompetitive practices by its major tech companies and how the companies handle sensitive customer data
ByteDance and TikTok were among the Chinese tech companies targeted by the Trump administration last year through a series of executive orders that blocked their apps from US app stores. None of the orders ever went into effect, and in June President Joe Biden signed an executive order to repeal the Trump-era bans. Biden instructed the Secretary of Commerce to investigate apps linked to foreign adversaries such as China, which may be collecting sensitive data from US consumers.
But TikTok also saw some new bright spots during the pandemic, not least the fan-created, crowdsourced Ratatouille TikTok musical. It started out as a one-off based on the 2007 Disney/Pixar film that Broadway fans, composers, choreographers and others have added, one TikTok at a time. Ratatouille: the TikTok musical debuted on January 1 as a one-night streaming concert, raising more than $1 million for The Actors Fund, which supports artists and employees in the entertainment industry.