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TikTok-owner Bytedance becomes world's most valuable internet startup

Tim Maytom

Bytedance, the Chinese firm that owns short video sharing app TikTok, has been valued as the world's largest internet startup following a new funding round that is reported to have raised $3bn (£2.34bn).

According to reports from Forbes and Bloomberg, the latest round of investment, which included activity from Softbank Group, General Atlantic, Primavera Caputal Group and KKR & Co, brings the firm's valuation to $75bn. The new figure sees the company overtake Uber, which previously held the top spot with a most recent valuation of $72bn, although rumours are circulating that the ride-sharing service may go public next year with a valuation as high as $120bn.

Bytedance operates a range of digital media platforms, but is best known for TikTok, which recently integrated similar service Musical.ly after it was acquired by Bytedance for $1bn. Bytedance also boasts 120m Chinese users for its AI-based news aggregator Toutiao, and a China-only version of TikTok (called Douyin) as well as international equivalents of Toutiao are also in operation. The firm keeps a careful fence between different versions of its various services, primarily due to censorship concerns within China and rights management needs.

Bytedance operates outside the domination of the so-called BAT Big Three - Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent - China's largest tech firms, and has drawn considerable interest both at home and internationally, with Google reportedly working on a Toutiao-style app for China and Facebook developing a clone of TikTok.