TikTok to leave its live shopping plans in US & Europe

TikTok may appear like an unstoppable global entertainment machine. Still, at least one part of the company’s offering isn’t entirely taking over: TikTok is rising back its live commerce projects in Europe and the US after early takeoffs haven’t been successful.

TikTok has been experimenting with live shopping in the UK since last year, starting with a multi-brand event called “On Trend” last December.

But the FT reported that those shopping live streams haven’t drawn big audiences and haven’t sparked many sales, and some of the developers involved in early TikTok Shop projects have tumbled out altogether.

TikTok had been scheduled to roll out Shop in Italy, Germany, France, and Spain by now and was hoping to pitch in the US later this year, but it is currently focused exclusively on making the product a hit in the UK. However, it also lives in many nations in Asia, where the concept is more mature.

Live online shopping, guided by creators and influencers, is an enormous business for TikTok’s owner, ByteDance. Likewise, Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok owned by ByteDance, has seen those live sales turn into massive cultural events that bring big business for creators, retailers, and platforms alike.

But so far, there’s not much proof to suggest that the live e-commerce model will function everywhere. QVC and Home Shopping Network were once considerable successes in the US, and more and more users are purchasing products through TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube. Still, many platforms have tried to make live shopping work, but none have succeeded. Plus, as social shopping increases, the competition to be the abode for that shopping will be fierce. Even Amazon is investing laboriously in shopping streams!

Still, it would benefit if you didn’t rule TikTok out. The app remains a hub of a culture where many people increasingly spend their time and money. There’s no query about TikTok’s commitment to the idea, either: the business has been building and testing reliable shopping experiences for more than a year. It is presently trying a TikTok Shop tab in the app in Indonesia. So if any company can make live social shopping work outside of Asia, it’s probably TikTok. But that’s a big if.

ByteDance Ltd. is a Chinese global internet technology corporation headquartered in Beijing and legally domiciled in the Cayman Islands.

Founded by Liang Rubo, Zhang Yiming, and a team of others in 2012, ByteDance acquired the video-sharing social networking service and apps TikTok and Chinese-specific partner Douyin. The company is also the originator of the news and information platform Toutiao. ByteDance takes care of 1.9 Bn monthly active users across all its content platforms.

ByteDance has garnered public awareness over allegations that it functioned with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to censor and surveil content about Xinjiang internment camps and other topics deemed controversial by the CCP.

In 2009, software engineer and entrepreneur Zhang Yiming teamed with his friend Liang Rubo to co-found 99fang.com, a real estate search engine. In early 2012, the pair leased an apartment in Zhongguancun and, along with many 99fang employees, began designing an app that would use big data algorithms to categorize news according to users’ preferences, which would later become Toutiao. That March, Yiming, and Liang founded ByteDance.

In March 2012, It allowed users to circulate jokes, memes, and humorous videos. After that, ByteDance launched the first version of the news and content platform Toutiao, which would become their core product. Toutiao struck 1 million daily active users four months after its liftoff.

In March 2016, ByteDance founded its research arm, the ByteDance AI Lab. It is steered by Wei-Ying Ma, the former assistant MD of Microsoft Research Asia. The lab’s analysis has focused on AI for an in-depth understanding of information (text, images, videos) and creating machine learning algorithms for personalized information suggestions. The same year, the ByteDance AI Lab and Peking University co-developed Xiaomingbot, an AI bot that wrote news articles.

In March 2021, ByteDance was part of a group of Chinese companies that aimed to deploy technology to circumvent Apple’s privacy policies. The following month, ByteDance reported that it had created a new division, BytePlus, to spread the underlying platform of TikTok so that others may launch comparable apps. In addition, ByteDance acquired Pico, an Oculus-like virtual reality startup.

On 19 January 2022, reports from Chinese media outlet 36Kr suggested that the company plans to dismiss its entire strategic investment arm, citing a former ByteDance employee. Later the same day, an official ByteDance representative announced that the company’s investment arm had been dissolved. There are plans to reassign the department’s staff and its head, Zhao Pengyuan, to the strategic business unit. Unconfirmed reports suggest that the move may also result from new guidelines drafted by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), China’s leading internet regulator.

Zhang Yiming was ByteDance’s chairman and CEO from its founding in 2012 until 2021 when co-founder Liang Rubo took over as CEO. In addition, ByteDance and Disney announced that Kevin Mayer, head of Disney’s streaming business, would join ByteDance. From June 2020 to his resignation on 26 August 2020, Mayer served as the CEO of TikTok and the COO of ByteDance, reporting directly to the company CEO Zhang Yiming. In 2021, Chew Shouzi, former CFO of Xiaomi, took over as TikTok CEO.

As with many Chinese companies, the company has an internal CCP committee serving the party members among the employees, with vice president Zhang Fuping serving as its Party Committee Secretary.

ByteDance is financially backed by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, SoftBank Group, Sequoia Capital, General Atlantic, and Hillhouse Capital Group. As of March 2021, it was estimated to be valued at $250 billion in private trades.

In April 2021, a state-owned enterprise owned by the Cyberspace Administration of China, the China Internet Investment Fund, took a partial ownership stake in ByteDance’s central Chinese entity and established a government official, Wu Shugang, on its panel of directors. The Economist and Reuters have described the Chinese government’s stake in ByteDance as a golden share investment.

ByteDance’s China business has a strategic partnership with the Chinese Ministry of Public Security for the ministry’s public relations efforts. In 2019, ByteDance formed joint ventures with Beijing Time, a publisher controlled by the Beijing municipal CCP committee, and with Shanghai Dongfang, a state media firm in Shanghai.