The Metaverse Money Pit: How Meta’s $70 Billion Bet Compares to Tech’s Biggest GamblesView Now

Toutiao's app on a smartphone. Photo by Mike Sullivan.

How a News Startup Caught China’s Tencent by Surprise

Photo: Toutiao's app on a smartphone. Photo by Mike Sullivan.

In a lush valley near the ancient Silk Road’s starting point in Western China, young farmer Wang Zheng checks his smartphone for chicken feed tips and egg prices. Mr. Wang is using a news app called Jinri Toutiao—“today’s headlines” in English—whose machine-learning algorithm feeds him personally tailored articles and videos based on his habits and interests. Which, in his case, are mostly chicken-related.

Toutiao is sustaining a much bigger audience than just chicken farmers. Average daily active users recently surpassed 100 million, according to its developer, Beijing Bytedance Technology, making it one of the country’s most popular media content platforms. The company was reportedly valued at more than $11 billion in its latest fundraising earlier this year, making it one of China’s most valuable private tech companies. Its investors include Sequoia Capital China and the investment arm of China Construction Bank.

Get access to exclusive coverage
Read deeply reported stories from the largest newsroom in tech.
Latest Articles
 
The Briefing apple enterprise
Why Cellular Carriers are Apple's Best Friend
Photo by Bloomberg.
This was not a day for Apple fans. Shares of the iPhone maker dipped just over 1% even as the rest of the market rallied, after Bloomberg reported that demand for the new line of iPhones was turning out to be weaker than expected. As a result, Apple won’t make as many devices as anticipated. This is supposedly the result of belt-tightening among consumers globally, at least partly. But as...
Latest Briefs
 
Chinese Video App Bilibili to Change Hong Kong Listing Status
Apple Removes Russia’s Largest Social Media App
TripActions Said to File Confidentially for IPO
Stay in the know
Receive a summary of the day's top tech news—distilled into one email.
Access on the go
View stories on our mobile app and tune into our weekly podcast.
Join live video Q&A’s
Deep-dive into topics like startups and autonomous vehicles with our top reporters and other executives.
Enjoy a clutter-free experience
Read without any banner ads.
Art by Clark Miller
The Big Read crypto
‘What Am I Going to Do Now?’: Fired Crypto Workers Weigh Life After the Boom
On July 14, James Hu was sitting in his “fabulously expensive” apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Illustration by Matheus Costa.
apple crypto
How Apple’s App Store Policies Squeeze NFT Startups
Non-fungible tokens, like much of the crypto world, are in regulators’ and lawmakers’ crosshairs.
Patrick Collison. Photo by Getty Images.
Exclusive startups venture capital
Stripe’s Early Stock Awards Could Spur IPO Plans
Stripe founders John and Patrick Collison have indicated the payments software pioneer, valued in its last fundraising at $95 billion, is in no rush to go public.
Instacart CEO Fidji Simo. Photo by Bloomberg.
Exclusive startups
Instacart Cuts Staff, Curbs Hiring in Run-up to IPO
Instacart has been letting go of staff, slowing hiring and curbing other expenses as it heads toward a public listing, when the grocery-delivery company will try to convince public investors that it can maintain its growth—and make a profit—as the economy slows.
Ana Kirova courtesy of Feeld.
The 1:1 culture
‘Monogamy Should Not Be the Default’: What a Dating App CEO and Her Tech Clientele Have in Common
Ana Kirova is a frequent user of her own dating app—but not without complications. As CEO of Feeld, which describes itself as “a dating app for exploration, curiosity and pleasure,” Kirova never knows when to divulge her role at the company to potential matches.
google apple
The Metaverse Money Pit: How Meta’s $70 Billion Bet Compares to Tech’s Biggest Gambles
Is Meta Platforms’ $70 billion bet on the metaverse shaping up as the biggest money pit ever in tech?