Mar 29, 2021 | TikTok

A Timeline of TikTok

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Written by Jessica Van Sack

Happy 10 year anniversary to TikTok!

Believe it or not, TikTok actually emerged nearly 10 years ago in 2012, as a Beijing-based app called ByteDance and Douyin. These years were a period of fast growth for ByteDance. The video-sharing app was wildly successful before setting its sights on the rest of the world. In 2012, Zhang Yiming, a 29-year-old serial engineer, established ByteDance in Beijing.

A Timeline of TikTok


Chinese product designer Alex Zhu launches Musically


ByteDance launches Douyin, which is regarded by many as a Musical.ly clone. It launches Douyin’s overseas version TikTok later that year.


TikTok takes off in the United States: TikTok merges with Musical.ly and and launches in the U.S., where it quickly becomes popular, the first social media app from a Chinese tech company to achieve that level of success there. But at the same time, its ownership leads to questions about national security and censorship, against the backdrop of the U.S.-China tariff wars and increased scrutiny of Chinese tech companies (including Huawei and ZTE) under the Trump administration.


Tensions escalate between the U.S. government and TikTok, with a federal executive order banning “transactions” with ByteDance in 45 days, or on September 20. (link). TikTok says the order was “issued without any due process” and would risk “undermining global businesses’ trust in the United States’ commitment to the rule of law.” (link)


TikTok is the most highly engaged social media app in the U.S., with 100 million users. This year, ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, is reportedly working on a public stock offering, and the company has been privately valued at close to $250 billion. In the U.S., TikTok has been making inroads with brands like Ocean Spray, Arby’s, McDonald’s, Gatorade and the National Football League.

Yellow House guide to TikTok

Yellow House Creative Consulting LLC manages more than a dozen successful TikTok accounts, having grown several from zero to hundreds of thousands of organic followers in under a year. Want to grab our free TikTok Guide for Brands in 2022? It’s available here.

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