Bytedance to Shut Down Overseas Content Aggregator TopBuzz

Chinese social media giant ByteDance (Source: CNN)

Bytedance is gradually shutting down TopBuzz, a content aggregator and news app that launched in overseas markets in 2015, as the company focuses more on the expansion and monetization of its short video app TikTok, according to a report from media outlet 36Kr, citing people familiar with the matter.

As of writing, TopBuzz is no longer available for download in Apple’s App Store. While the app is still available on Google Play, the only version available is in Japanese. Users who have already installed the app can still browse content in their feed, but many creators have stopped uploading new content, according to the 36Kr report.

Bytedance said the changes on the platform are “normal business adjustments.”

Launched in 2015, TopBuzz has 36 million monthly active users (MAU) worldwide, according to its website. The app is similar to Bytedance’s content aggregator for the China market, Jinri Toutiao.

In September 2019, The Information reported that Bytedance had been in talks with potential buyers to sell TopBuzz, which had been underperforming in the US, with prospective buyers including some US-based media companies. TopBuzz News ranked 35th among all news apps on iOS in the US at the time of the report. TopBuzz Video ranked 727th among entertainment apps on iOS.

Bytedance has seen slower or even stagnant growth in China recently as the market becomes saturated and rife with competition. To continue its fast-paced growth, the company has been pushing for faster expansion in overseas markets with TikTok. However, the Chinese roots of the app have attracted the scrutiny of US regulators in the US in late 2019, who suspect that the app poses national security threats.

Bytedance has since made a series of moves to alleviate US regulators’ concerns, separating TikTok from its Chinese operations and releasing its first-ever transparency report to explain its content-filtering practices. In May, the company also poached Disney streaming executive Kevin Mayers as the company’s chief operating officer and the chief executive officer of TikTok.

In addition to doubling down on TikTok, Bytedance has also made ventures into gaming, online education, and productivity tools to diversify its revenue stream. Yanshou, the head of Bytedance’s gaming business, said in April that the company would hire 1,000 people to join its gaming division in 2020, which already has more than 1,000 employees as of January. The company’s education business also intends to increase its headcount by 10,000 this year.

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