His name means nothing to the general public. Yet, with a valuation of $75 billion at the end of 2018, Zhang Yiming’s company ByteDance has become, just seven years after its creation, the world’s biggest unicorn ahead of Uber.
Year took up current function: 2012
Turnover in 2018: $7.2bn
Growth in 2018: N/A
This unbridled success owes everything to the vision of its CEO, Zhang Yiming. It was by launching a press aggregation service in China, called Toutiao, in 2012 that the entrepreneur gained fame in the Middle Kingdom. Since then, no obstacle or border has ever stopped him. ByteDance brings together a host of services that favor AI, including TikTok, a short-term mobile video app that has become the fourth most downloaded app in history. In order to not lose ground in the face of ever-growing competition, the group has strengthened with major acquisitions and diversification operations. Following Flipagram, News Republic and Bailyjunt, Musical.ly is the latest company to fall into his pocket, for the princely sum of $800 million. Far from marking time, the insatiable entrepreneur has already announced his intention to engage in paid music streaming for emerging countries, markets still neglected by Spotify and Apple Music. However, it is primarily the rumor of the launch of his own smartphone that has most had tongues wagging. Succeeding to carve out a spot in a hardware industry in China already dominated by Huawei, Xiaomi, Vivo and Oneplus would be a major achievement. Amazon and Facebook have already fallen flat on their faces.