ByteDance Versus Begging for Dollars

June 18, 2021

I have noticed more and more “real” news sites begging for dollars. The blandishments come in many forms. Be a patron, subscribe, buy a T shirt, spit out an email so that info can be sold to a broker, and/or pay to get “premium” content. These outfits are in the same pickle barrel that most newspapers and traditional TV stations find themselves: Lots of pickles, rancid environment, and not too many consumers standing on line to get an old fashioned 1850s dwarf cucumber.

How do I know this?

I read “TikTok Owner ByteDance Sees Its Earnings Double in 2020.” Here’s the passage I noted:

An internal memo released to staff showed that the firm’s total revenue jumped by 111% to $34.3bn (£24.7bn) for 2020.

And this:

ByteDance also saw its annual gross profit rise by 93% to to $19bn, while it recorded a net loss of $45bn for the same period. The net loss was attributed to a one-off accounting adjustment and not related to the company’s operations.

And this:

The memo also showed that ByteDance had around 1.9bn monthly active users across all of its platforms as of December last year.

Net net: Good numbers or bad numbers? Begging for dollars? Not yet. There’s data in them thar American eyeballs. And if ByteDance needs cash? Perhaps the Chinese government will provide some assistance. Meanwhile, US content providers have to ask, “Is begging for dollars a viable approach when the percentage of people who will pay is modest.

Stephen E Arnold, June 18, 2021

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