Viral Video App TikTok Is Here to Stay
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Like it or not, TikTok is not going away.
TikTok is owned by Chinese parent company ByteDance, and is designed for the “new generation of creators.” The Chinese version of TikTok, called Douyin, has amassed 400 million daily active users, ByteDance revealed in its annual report this week.
Katherine Wu, an investor at Notation Capital, wrote a blog post about ByteDance’s report, asking the question that’s definitely been on my mind: “Is ByteDance the first company to have created a truly global, viral, social app?”
Wu thinks this is only the beginning for ByteDance and its dominance beyond China.
At 28, I feel ridiculously old for TikTok, and I have no idea how to use it, so I just do what other “old people” do — I follow TikTok’s account on Instagram. So when I went to Atlanta over the holidays to spend time with family, my younger sister decided to give me the low-down on TikTok. (She falls squarely in the Gen Z demographic — she’s not on Facebook, barely uses Instagram, but is absolutely obsessed with TikTok.)
She scrolled through the various short-form videos and even forced me to record one with her. (We danced to a mashup of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” and … “Soulja Boy.” Don’t ask. I don’t know either, and I am certain this video will somehow come back to bite me in 20 years.)
All of ByteDance’s products use machine learning in some way to deliver hyper-personalized content that users want. The company uses computer vision and natural language processing to understand and analyze written content, images and videos. Based on your clicks and swipes and taps, the algorithms learn your reading habits and bring you content that it knows you’ll like.
So even though the videos I saw were funny, and I enjoyed them, I couldn’t stop thinking, “YOUR DATA. WHAT ABOUT CHINA. OMG.” And I’m not the only one with those worries. The U.S. government and other tech industry observers have similar concerns.
They fear that TikTok is collecting and sharing user data. It’s threatening national security. It could challenge democratic values. Worst of all — it’s promoting “scantily clad adults and suggestive dancing” to children.
But my little sister didn’t know about any of that, and like many in her age group, didn’t exactly care. “They’re just funny videos.” And honestly, it might be a little too late to stop its influence because it’s already so ingrained in culture.
If you don’t believe me, just read this mind-boggling article in the New York Times about how TikTok influencers with millions of followers are moving into a house in Los Angeles together to … make content full-time. Dubbed the “Hype House,” the physical location of this content creator collective is nearly without furniture, which makes shooting videos easier.
Several politicians have asked the U.S. government to open an investigation into TikTok out of concerns about censorship and counterintelligence. But the genie is way out of the bottle, and culture doesn’t follow Washington’s timeline.
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- Orchard (previously known as Perch), a New York-based home buying marketplace, raised $36 million in funding. Navitas led the round, and was joined by investors including FirstMark, Juxtapose, and Accomplice.
- Ride Health, a New York-based provider and coordinator of transportation for patients, raised $6.2 million in seed funding. Activate Venture Partners led the round, and was joined by investors including Newark Venture Partners, Anthro Ventures, BioAdvance, Leading Edge Ventures and Startup Health.
- Juro, a London-based contract management platform, raised $5 million in Series A funding. Union Square Ventures led the round, and was joined by investors including Point Nine Capital, Taavet Hinrikus, and Paul Forster.
- Ripple Science, an Ann Arbor, Mich.-based developer of web-based software for health sciences, raised $2.5 million in funding. Investors include Dundee VC, Mercury Fund, SpringTime Ventures, Red Cedar Ventures, and M25, Revolution’s Rise to the Rest Seed Fund.
- OncoLens, an Atlanta-based developer of cancer treatment planning software solutions, raised $2.5 million in pre-Series A funding. BIP Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including Atlanta Technology Angels, and the Robbins Fund.
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HEALTH & LIFE SCIENCES DEALS
- Debut Biotechnology, a San Diego-based startup that creates advanced manufacturing processes for high value molecules, raised $2.6 million in seed funding. KdT Ventures led the round, and was joined by investors including Better Ventures, FTW Ventures, and SpringTide Ventures.
PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS
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- Care Advantage, a BelHealth Investment Partners portfolio company, acquired Amaisa Home Care, a Leesburg, Va.-based provider of non-medical home care services.
- Trinity Hunt Partners acquired a majority stake in Dataprise, a Rockville, Md.-based IT managed services provider. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- Surge Private Equity acquired Norris Training Systems, a Texas-based provider of training hosting services. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- Busy Bee Cleaning Services, which is backed by Surge Private Equity, acquired Reyes Cleaning Services Corp, a New York City-based cleaning service company. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- Cotton Creek Capital acquired Landpoint, a Bossier City, La.-based provider of geospatial services. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- Sun Capital Partners, Inc. acquired Cotton Holdings, a Katy, Texas-based infrastructure support services company for public and private entities. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- Sheridan Capital Partners made an investment in Tarrytown Expocare, an Austin, Texas-based long-term care pharmacy. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
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- Professional Holding Corp., a Coral Gables, Fla.-based bank, filed to raise $75 million in an IPO. The firm posted total interest income of $28.2 million and net income of $6.8 million in 2018. BayBoston Capital, EJF Capital, and Emerald Advisers back the firm. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “PFHD.” Read more.
Warburg Pincus agreed to acquire Sundyne, an Arvada, Colo.-based company that manufactures mission critical flow control equipment. Sellers include BC Partners Advisors L.P. and The Carlyle Group. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- Vineeta Agarwala joined Andreessen Horowitz as a general partner on the bio fund.
- Ara Partners Group promoted Johanna Schmidtke to managing director.
- Silversmith Capital Partners promoted Marc Munfa to operating partner, Nikhil Marathe to principal, - and Lyndsay Kerwin and Jay Leventhal to vice president.
- OpenGate Capital promoted Aaron Figura to principal.
- Surge Private Equity named Thiago Farias as vice president.
- Ara Partners Group promoted Johanna Schmidtke to managing director.
- LLR Partners promoted Sasank Aleti and Michael Levenberg to partner.
- Silversmith Capital Partners promoted Marc Munfa to operating partner, Nikhil Marathe to principal, and Lyndsay Kerwin and Jay Leventhal to vice president.
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