TikTok’s recommendation algorithm, the “secret ingredient” that plays a huge part in making the video sharing app so popular, is no longer secret. Parent company ByteDance is now selling this technology to other companies as well.
According to the Financial Times, ByteDance quitely launched a new division called BytePlus last month. Through this division, the company is offering some of the Artificial Intelligence (AI) tech that powers TikTok’s recommendation algorithm to clients all over the world.
In a blog post last year, TikTok explained that recommendations are based on a number of factors including user interactions such as the “videos you like or share, accounts you follow, comments you post, and content you create”; video information like captions, sounds, and hashtags; device and account settings like your language preference, country setting, and device type; user’s interest on a particular video; and much more.
All this works behind the scene to keep users scrolling by recommending the types of videos they might want to watch more of. This technology is now on sale thorugh ByteDance’s BytePlus division. However, that’s not all. BytePlus also offers computer vision tech for real-time video effects, “award-winning” machine translation tools, and data analytics tools to its clients.
According to the company’s’ official website, its early customers include US fashion app Goat, Singaporean travel company WeGo, Indonesian e-commerce startup Chilibeli, Indian social-gaming platform Gamesapp, and Singaporean social e-commerce platform Webuy. Bytedance’s enterprise collaboration platform Lark is also listed among BytePlus’ customers. TikTok features in the list as well, of course.
TikTok’s AI on sale as ByteDance prepares for an IPO
ByteDance is seemingly looking to broaden its revenue streams as it prepares for an initial public offering (IPO). With TikTok’s popularity reaching a ceiling at some point, it wants to diversify its products. The launch of BytePlus follows the debut of a similar China-only service called Volcano Engine, or Volcengine. This service lists smartphone maker Vivo, e-commerce company JD.com, and automotive company Geely as its customers.
BytePlus, meanwhile, is based in Singapore but also has presences in London and Hong Kong. The company is seemingly incorporated separately to TikTok in the UK and Europe. A six-year ByteDance veteran named Tianyi He is apparently the head of this new ByteDance division. Staffs include former Microsoft and IBM employees among others.
ByteDance has reportedly sought to register trademarks for both BytePlus and Volcano Engine in the US as well. However, it’s unclear whether either of the company’s new divisions have any presence stateside as yet.