TikTok needs no introduction, especially in a market like India that has contributed immensely to its global success. But despite all its achievements, it will be fair to say that TikTok is easily the most controversial social media app this year. From facing a ban in India over serious allegations like 'encouraging pornography' to dealing with global political pressure over 'censorship' and its data-sharing practices, TikTok's journey so far has been nothing but a roller coaster ride.
But do you know the story of the man behind TikTok being a global sensation?
Meet Zhang Yiming, a man who founded ByteDance in 2012. For those who don't know yet, TikTok is owned and operated by Chinese company ByteDance, one of the world's most valuable startups.
36-year-old Zhang Yiming is a billionaire who has paved the way for a teen phenomenon TikTok, which recently reached the milestone of 150 crores global installs.
Thanks to ByteDance's $75 billion valuations, Zhang's personal wealth is estimated at $13 billion, which makes him the ninth richest person in China.
Born in April 1983, Zhang entered Nankai University in Tianjin in 2001. Zhang majored in microelectronics but later shifted his focus towards software engineering. Zhang graduated from Nankai University in 2005.
-- In 2006, Zhang took a job at a travel website 'Kuxun' as the engineer and was promoted to the technical director a year later.
-- In 2008, Zhang left Kuxun to join Microsoft, which he soon left owing to the corporate rules of the company.
-- In the meantime, Zhang joined the startup Fanfou, which did not survive.
-- In 2009, Zhang took over Kuxun's real estate search business when Expedia was about to acquire it.
-- In 2009, Zhang started his first company 99fang.com.
In 2012, Zhang quit 99fang.com to start another company, which came to be known as ByteDance.
ByteDance's exponential growth beyond China is perhaps what makes it different from the mighty BATs - Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent that dominate China's internet browsing, e-commerce, gaming and messaging.
Lest we forget, TikTok is one of the main reasons why ByteDance is so successful beyond China and Zhang's fortunes saw a huge boost with ByteDance's 2017 acquisition of Musical.ly, which later merged with TikTok.
In 2019, Zhang was listed in the top 20 of the Hurun China Rich List.