ByteDance, which brought TikTok to the world, is adding thousands of employees as part of a plan to challenge Alibaba in eCommerce, Bloomberg reported. Among the new employees are hundreds who are tasked with identifying potential counterfeits before they reach customers. The company has also brought on major sponsors like Xiaomi Corp. Co-founder Lei Jun.
Zhang Yiming, who built ByteDance, is a “38-year-old AI coding genius,” Bloomberg wrote. The news service estimated the size of the eCommerce market Yiming is targeting at $1.7 trillion. Yiming said eCommerce will represent his next “major breakthrough,” per the report.
In its first year, Yiming’s eCommerce effort sold around $26 billion of “makeup, clothing and other merchandise.” In doing so, Yiming waded directly into a market long dominated by Alibaba Group and JD.com Inc.
Bloomberg quoted Shawn Yang, managing director of Blue Lotus Capital Advisors, as having said in reference to TikTok’s key feature: “Short video platforms have so much traffic that they can basically do any business.”
“Douyin (the Chinese version of TikTok) is not only in ads, but also live-streaming, eCommerce, local life services and search. This has a lot of room for imagination,” Yang added.
Bloomberg reported that ByteDance will use its artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities — particularly the ability to present video-watchers with compelling advertisements — to power its eCommerce operations.
The report quoted Bob Kang, Douyin’s head of eCommerce, as having recently told an audience that the new offering is “sort of similar to shopping on the street.”
“As people get richer, they don’t go to shopping malls or boutique stores with specific things in mind — they just buy if they see something they like,” he added.