A company executive announced the milestone at the Shanghai Film Festival this week. A ByteDance spokeswoman confirmed his remarks to CNN Business on Thursday, saying the billion mark was crossed earlier this year.
ByteDance has more than a dozen apps including news aggregator Jinri Toutiao, trending video platform Top Buzz and selfie app FaceU.
But the company’s global success is based on TikTok, where users share short videos of themselves lip-syncing, cooking, dancing or just being silly.
As of March, TikTok was the most downloaded app in Apple (AAPL)’s App Store for five consecutive quarters, according to market research firm Sensor Tower. Overall, it was the third most downloaded app worldwide for the first three months of this year.
The video platform hit 1 billion downloads worldwide in February, Sensor Tower said, of which nearly 100 million came from the United States and 250 million came from India.
TikTok’s international appeal sets it apart from other Chinese social media platforms such as Tencent (TCEHY)’s WeChat, Sina Weibo (WB) and Alibaba’s (BABA) Youku, which have struggled to win over users beyond their home turf.
Tencent’s WeChat hit a billion users last year, but the vast majority of them are in China.
ByteDance’s success has attracted big investors, including tech kingmaker SoftBank (SFTBY). The injection of cash from SoftBank (SFTBY) reportedly valued ByteDance at $75 billion late last year, making it the world’s most valuable start up ahead of The We Company, owners of WeWork, and e-cigarette company Juul.
It hasn’t all been smooth sailing, however.
In February, TikTok was hit with a record fine by the US Federal Trade Commission for collecting data on children under the age of 13. The fine related to Musical.ly, a video-sharing app Bytedance bought in 2017 and merged with TikTok last August.
In India, TikTok was pulled from app stores in April over claims it made children vulnerable to pornographic and other inappropriate content. The ban was lifted after two weeks, after ByteDance successfully appealed the court ruling.
And while a billion users is an impressive feat for the seven-year-old startup, Bytedance still trails far behind Facebook (FB), which has more than 5 billion monthly active users including its WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram platforms.