Sign up to receive 5 free days of our daily summary for tech news.

Read this article for free.

Already a subscriber? Log in here

Asia

How a News Startup Caught China’s Tencent by Surprise

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.

What Is The Information?

Notebook b5103017ee163370a1667c9ce59ab0ef023875a17888105d26c185cadf31bb69

Daily news analysis

Every weeknight, we'll send you our reporters’ views on the day’s top tech news—distilled into one email.

Notes bb3aa5069205d702dda37fc71dc6f1c59df2310c4379304e9f1199f052af4884

Exclusive Articles

We broke it first. Receive original reporting, stories, and exclusives you won't read anywhere else from the largest newsroom in tech.

Conference calls c9e664e8b96ee347d3e92b8309938f268422b9db98cfabca5c826fbb75054b23

Conference calls

Go deep into areas like crypto and VC diversity—or get real-time analysis of breaking news—via conference calls with our reporters and other experts.

Events 499acedd16cffc41445edd76bfd302b2836c2a27419890f17130a6b10e2aa3df

Special Events

For no extra fee, subscribers get access to more than a dozen events yearly, from intimate dinners to larger gatherings with marquee speakers.

Access the best reporting on the tech industry read by tens of thousands of global executives.

Become a contributor

Share your views and find other subscribers by completing your profile. You’ll be listed in our contributor directory.

Org Charts

Access the only collection of tech company org charts. Our expanding database includes companies like Amazon, Snap, and Uber.

Slack community

Discuss topics and current events with our subscriber-only Slack group and share news about your company with other subscribers.

Share with your team

Subscribers can unlock any article and share it with friends and co-workers through a special share link.

Stay up to date on Silicon Valley

Sign up for Jessica Lessin’s (The Information’s CEO & Founder) free Saturday newsletter and also receive a complimentary week of our daily afternoon tech commentary email.

Already a subscriber? Log in here

Recent Articles

Asia

Alibaba’s Ele.me Gears Up for Costly Subsidy War With Meituan, Didi

By Yunan Zhang and Juro Osawa

Autonomous Vehicles Asia Startups

China’s Byton Seeks to Eclipse Rivals With Didi Deal

By Juro Osawa and Shai Oster

Asia Entertainment

Tensions Flare Behind the Scenes of ‘League of Legends’

By Wayne Ma and Juro Osawa

Asia Entertainment

Does Tencent Music Deserve a Spotify-Like Valuation?

By Alfred Lee and Wayne Ma

Toutiao walks a fine line between giving readers what they want and potentially angering government censors.