How Microsoft Swallowed Its Pride to Make a Massive Bet on OpenAIRead more

April 28, 2023 11:00 AM PDT

Earlier this spring, as Clare Sullivan scrolled through her TikTok feed, she began to notice creators plugging yet another new social media platform. “Follow me on Lemon8!” one said. “It’s going to be the next big thing” the next interjected. “You need to get on TikTok’s new app Lemon8,” another reiterated.

Sullivan kept seeing these posts—some sponsored by Lemon8, some organic—hyping the new service, which happens to be owned by ByteDance, the China-based parent company of TikTok. “Imagine Pinterest, Instagram and Canva all have a baby,” said one fan on TikTok. But rather than feeling excited about the new platform, which lets users share and view cutesy, lifestyle-focused photos, ideas and infographics, Sullivan said she just felt “exhausted.” Having amassed 1.3 million followers on TikTok to go along with her 29,000 subscribers on YouTube and YouTube Shorts, 47,000 on Instagram and Reels, and a smattering more on Pinterest and Snapchat, Sullivan didn’t want to add yet another social platform to her oeuvre. “One Lemon8 post,” she said, requires “a lot of creativity and energy.…That’s why I felt overwhelmed.”

Still, a distinct fear of missing out on “the next big thing” in social media made her cave. She created a Lemon8 account, driven by existential questions: “How am I going to keep my job? Because I love my job? How am I going to keep it if TikTok goes away?”

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Microsoft's Satya Nadella, left, and Peter Lee. Photo by Bloomberg, Microsoft
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