In 2018, Facebook launched a video app called Lasso to directly compete with TikTok, which is estimated to have been downloaded fewer than 500,000 times, compared to TikTok's 500 million plus.
The popular video-sharing app TikTok opened a Silicon Valley office in Mountain View only a few minutes away from Facebook's Palo Alto headquarters, CNBC's Salvador Rodriguez reported this week.
TikTok seems to be moving in on Facebook's territory figuratively and literally — it now occupies the office that Facebook's messaging app WhatsApp used to call home.
TikTok is also poaching Facebook's employees, according to CNBC, hiring more than two dozens former Facebook employees since 2018. One person at TikTok told CNBC that the company offers salaries up to 20% higher than Facebook's to draw experienced employees from its competitors. TikTok has also reportedly hired employees from Apple, Google, Hulu, Snap, and other tech companies during this high-growth period.
Although Facebook hasn't officially listed TikTok as a competitor in financial documents, the company seems to be aware of the growing threat from the short-form video app. In November 2018, Facebook launched Lasso, a standalone video app that was nearly identical to TikTok. Lasso didn't take off; Sensor Tower estimates it's been downloaded 420,000 outside of China, compared to TikTok's more than 500 million users.
Facebook's Instagram also appears to be working on a TikTok competitor. Discovered by reverse app engineer Jane Manchum Wong, the tool will be called "Clips," and it will allow users to combine short videos and add music, mimicking TikTok.
While the number of TikTok's daily users are nowhere near Facebook's, the app's parent company ByteDance is growing quickly. ByteDance has been described as "China's Facebook," and it is the highest valued private company in the world at $75 billion. ByteDance launched the Chinese version of TikTok, Douyin, in 2016, and the international version under the name TikTok a year later. In late 2017, the company purchased another video sharing app, Musical.ly, and combined them in August 2018. By September 2019, TikTok was the top free non-gaming app in the US.
In leaked audio published by The Verge, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg described the company's plans to compete with TikTok, "So yeah. I mean, TikTok is doing well...we're trying to first see if we can get it to work in countries where TikTok is not already big before we go and compete with TikTok in countries where they are big."
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