Unpacking ByteDance’s $7 Billion 2021 Loss – and What Happens Next, Plus It’s Not About KimK – It’s About YOU, Musing on Musk and the Inevitable Link-In-Bio Winter.

10/10/2022: Here’s what’s new and what caught my eye last week

ByteDance Losses Mount: Fascinating look inside the financials of TikTok’s parent company from the WSJ ($) – free summary here. The Chinese internet giant lost more than $7B last year – although they claimed an operating profit 1Q22. Data is elusive, but it looks like the company lost nearly $4 per user in 2021 – double 2020’s number. It’s also unclear how much can be attributed to TikTok and how much went to the various Chinese companies, including Douyin and the new VR headset division Pico. Company valuation seems to have dropped nearly 40% from a peak of $400B in 2021 as well.

  • My take: ByteDance (and TikTok) are pivoting from deficit funding growth to cash generation. My recent discussions with marketing execs reinforce that, as TT ramped up pricing on just about everything in the last few months. Expect prices to go up – and creator payments to stagnate.
  • This also helps explain the TikTok video search pivot we discussed last week. TikTok’s content graph seems to understand intent, yet product and monetization haven’t caught up. Get your popcorn out. The battle between ByteDance and Alphabet will be one for the ages.
  • How did ByteDance get so big? This HBR article from February explains.
  • Help me crowdsource ByteDance financials. I pulled as many numbers as I could into a working spreadsheet. Feel free to add comments, additional sources and corrections if you have them.

It’s Not About Kim, it’s About Me and You: The SEC slammed a $1.26M fine on Kim Kardashian for hyping a crypto project without disclosure. The internet was confused. Some thought it odd that a billionaire – who could afford a $1M fine easily – was singled out. Others wondered why just Kim? In the end, this move has less to do with Ms. Kardashian herself, and should be interpreted as a warning to all of us – creators and experts of all stripes – to be careful with what we promote, and to ALWAYS disclose. It’s not just a good idea. It’s the law!

Musk To Buy Twitter After All: Or will he? Surprisingly last week Elon Musk said he would agree to the original price and close on the Twitter deal. But the clock is ticking – he only has until the end of October. But Musk is – again – stalling. What’s going on? Brad Berens argues that it’s all about November 8th.

The Death of “Link In Bio”? Soon you’ll be able to include multiple links in your Instagram profile, which massively devalues vanilla LIB startups. Smart companies like Koji have been including a variety of functions in their offerings and are now more of a one-stop shop for creators. Expect a die off, though across many of the 62 companies in the space. Also seems like an ideal time for GoDaddy or Squarespace to fire up the acquisition engine.


SPONSOR: Again, I’m sponsoring my own email! I’m working on a creator economy event in Singapore in late November, want to speak or sponsor? Ping me!

Tip of the Week: Some early TikTok SEO advice is emerging. David Paykin updated his Social Media Guide with a new SEO section – which you can download for free. Here’s a summary of one of his new TikTok SEO tips:

First, identify the most relevant and highly searched terms for your topic (ed: use TikTok, but also explore Google’s “Keyword Planner”). Then search for other top TikTok videos that use those keywords. Analyze the descriptions of those videos to identify common terms and hashtags. Incorporate those terms and tags into your description.

Avoid: Don’t use long descriptions on Trends, don’t spam your descriptions with unrelated keywords and ignore low volume/non-trending words. You want terms that are both relevant AND have high interest.


What I’m Watching:

See you around the internet, and feel free to share this with anyone you think might be interested, and if someone forwarded this to you, you can sign up and subscribe on LinkedIn for free here! And don’t forget to listen to The Creator Feed – the weekly podcast Renee Teeley and I produce – get it on Apple Podcasts or Spotify!

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