TikTok Growth Story, The Attention Factory of AI with Matthew Brennan

Michael MicheliniCorporate, Culture, Podcast0 Comments

We are upgrading our show to live streaming! This is being put online as well as being recorded as we evolve (7 years now of Global From Asia), and our GFAVIP members can access live networking rooms, as well as the general audience on various social media platforms can dial in and see this live -and of course – we have the recorded version for our social channels. If you enjoy our show and want to get VIP access to these events and our community, definetely check out our private membership at GFAVIP.com – ok now let’s get into the show!

Always great to have you involved with the Global From Asia community Matt – you’ve done amazing speeches and workshops in Cross Border Summit. We have not had you on the Global From Asia podcast for some crazy reason (Had you on China business Cast – which is a great podcast people should check out – run by Jons Slemmer now, a great friend of ours)

Topics Covered in this Episode

  • Intro Matt

    You’re a top expert on Wechat (well technically Tencent) and ByteDance (moore known as Tiktok and Douyin) and I just devoured your latest book – Attention Factory – highly recommended – and it is a deep dive into the world of how Tiktok was born and grown. Today we’ll take some highlights from that

  • How the book was written

    How did the idea to write the book start? I know this was started well before the Trump vs Chinese tech trade war started.

  • How did you get all these facts?

    You always have great research reports – so you used your experience and network. Can you share the backstory of getting all these facts – you talk about so many intimate discussions in the founding of the business.

  • It wasn’t an overnight success

    Many think these tech companies pop up out of nowhere and are an amazing success. But reading your book I see it started in 2012, and even the founder says before that – as he was building up a network of mobile apps in real estate first – and using that to boost up exposure. He made a factory of apps inside his own company and it was a bit like an incubator of apps, would you say?

  • Related followup: What was unique about TikTok’s growth

    In the book you mention how they made a network of mobile apps and then came across Douyin. Would you say this is a normal track Chinese internet companies go through?

  • The concept of AI and machine learning the news feed

    The founder talks about how he was questioned in Chinese media about how it is showing such “low quality” content to people – but he says that is what the people want. He mentioned that his feed is higher quality, because he consumes that kind of content so it shows him what he wants and what he consumes. What do you think of this recommendation engine and how it affects people?

  • Growth Hacking - app pre-installs

    It was fascinating to read that Douyin was a top buyer of pre-app downloads on mobile phones. I was down in Shenzhen during the time you mention in the book – 2013, when this was really hot (My wife Wendy even was working on manufacturers and apps stores biz dev). So when I read about how Douyin was a top client of these mobile app pre-install on phones – so the users don’t even need to download – makes a lot of sense. Can you share a bit about this growth hack?

  • Both using Red Packet Strategies for growth

    In your book, you mention how Douyin also had a Chinese new year red packet marketing strategy. I remember my wife was so excited when Wechat launched their red packets on Chinese New Year. Can you share about this strategy?

  • 4 ways of monetizing!

    Douyin monetizes 4 different ways – advertising, ecommerce, etc. It is truly amazing. Can you share the insights on this?

  • What listeners can do today to take action.

  • Ecommerce Sellers moving onto Short Video Ecommerce Selling

    I’m talking to people who are making a full time living (and some) selling in short videos. And also to Amazon sellers moving to this as well – seems the future? Most are Westerners outside of China – jump onto Tiktok asap?

  • About your book

    How did it get started and what a way to have it come out under today’s conditions.

  • Book giveaway contest?

    Can we do some kind of contest for those on the live call ? I’m brainstorming – or some promotion if people buy before a certain date.

People / Companies / Resources Mentioned in this Episode

Episode Length 42:48

Thanks so much for coming on and sharing with us today, Matt. I really appreciate you sharing and in your previous help with speaking at events.

Everybody, please check out his book, it’s the Attention Factory available on Amazon. It’s very affordable and a very good book, we have linked it in the show notes above as well.

Download Options

Listen in on Youtube

Show Transcript


[00:00:00] Episode 333, three, three, three Global from Asia going in Tiktok story and the Attention Factory and Matt Brennan’s book and some amazing stuff. Let’s go into it today. Welcome to the Global from Asia podcast, where the daunting process of running an international business is broken down, into straight up actionable advice.

[00:00:22] And now your host, Michael Michelini. Thank you everybody for choosing to listen to or download, or however you consume this content, maybe even read. We do have a full transcription as well of Global from Asia Episode 333 here. Three, three, three. Easy one to remember. And it’s a good one today. We’ve got Matt Brendan co-founder of the China Channel, also Chat Conference, basically.

[00:00:47] He’s one of the top experts I’d say about let’s say Wechats or Tiktok, which are both parent companies of Tencent and Bytedance. But most people know them as the products themselves and also Douyin. 

[00:01:00] And, you know, especially it’s the crazy news happening about the tables have turned. Blocking Chinese internet in the West.

[00:01:07] But we don’t talk about that too much. We. Just so happens Matt’s been working on this, he’s been covering Douyin, or these, these short videos for years, part of his, his research and what he does. And he put together a book. It’s an amazing book. And we talk about the story of Tiktok, what it takes, a little bit about the Chinese internet space.

[00:01:25] And really, I would say to really amazing insights of how does, you know, the future. I think we’re going to are using more and more Chinese internet, whether we like it or not around the world. I mean, There’s a lot, a lot developing, and there’s a lot of innovation happening in China first in a lot of ways.

[00:01:42] And this is a, this is an example of how that’s happening. So I’m really happy to bring on the show Matt Brennan, this is also recorded on live stream on our Facebook and we’re, I think we’re putting on YouTube as well. You can check out events.globalfromasia.com. For the upcoming streaming schedule, so you can catch it live.

[00:01:59] And if you’re a GFAVIP, you can actually join in and network with Matt or other guests as they come on and me. So let’s tune into the interview. Thank you to our gfavip.com members. We really appreciate you. It’s been a lot more fun to do these shows. We bring them onto the stage or into the live audience, and that’s how we’re separating, you know, and benefiting our, our, our paying and our supporting members.

[00:02:23] Of course, if you’re not a member, we still want to, I’ll give you this content and I’ll let you watch the streaming or watch season afterwards. So we’re trying to balance free and paid. But if you do want to support what we’re doing and also get some access to me and others in the community, we’d love you to check, check out gfavip.com.

[00:02:40] Thank everybody for tuning into our newer, upgraded Global From Asia live. And, of course our traditional podcast today, we have a great treat with us. Actually, Matt, I don’t think you’ve been, we’ve, we’ve had you on other podcasts. We’ve done like China Businesscast. I think this is the first time we’ve had you on the Global from Asia.

[00:02:57] I looked up and I was surprised. I think it is so, but yeah, we’ve been friends and, for many years, you know, in the space of, you know, China, internet, cross border trade, cross border business, it’s been, it’s been great to, to see you. And I’m really, it’s also a celebration of your, your book.

[00:03:19] Attention Factory right here. So, congrats on the book. I know how much work that is. And I’m excited to talk about that more today. We also have with us Carol in the community, Carol Zurita she’s in Singapore. She’s also been to Matt’s events, we’ve, down in Schengen, Matt’s spoken a lot about, you know, originally it was always Tencent and Wechat, but now it’s Bytedance and Tiktok or Douyin, which is what we’ll be talking about today.

[00:03:47] So, so thanks for helping out and joining us today Carol. Yeah. You’re welcome. Very happy to be here. It’s been a while. It’s a really good to see, friendly faces or Friends’ faces after awhile. Yeah. Yeah. That’s great. So, so Matt, you know, you’re the co-founder at China Channel. You’ve done amazing events for the community to help.

[00:04:11] I think you’re one of the, you know, the top experts on in English language for, you know, the Chinese internet and you’ve specialized in mobile tech, Mobile internet tech and innovation. You’ve been in a Bloomberg wall street journal, economist, BBC, Financial times and Forbes and like I just mentioned, you have just put out your new, your first book, I think, right.

[00:04:33] should or called attention factory. Yeah. It’s the first book about what you just described right. In a previous life, you know, I was doing ed tech for, an American school chain in China, and we had a whole ton of books under my name, to any of this. So for many, many years, but that’s a different life like yeah, because I used to do ed tech back in the day in, in, Chongqing.

[00:05:05] And we built and we built books, everything, like it was like a five-year project. But like I say, it was for education purposes, but it’s language education, my name on it. Cause I was, I was managing the team. Awesome. Okay. Okay. That’s that’s really cool. So yeah, I mean let me, let’s talk a little bit about.

[00:05:29] For those that aren’t familiar, you’ve been in, you speak Chinese, read Chinese, if you, you’ve, when did you first get into the China? You know, even mentioned EdTech, internet and technology. You know, I guess maybe a little bit about when did you first, you know, the story of your China’s entering China and how’d you get there?

[00:05:57] They give you like a whole, a whole book, but, oh, there is definitely a, but no, not for me, but from some other people, around that time. Yeah. I think it was crazy back then. Yeah. So after coming out of uni straight away, I studied economics and then went to China for a year. I almost went to Poland.

[00:06:18] Right. I just went to China because, I was with a friends and we worked out the purchasing power parity of what we earned. That was really good being an economist. It was like, Oh, you know, everything. It, the wave seems so small that we immediately were like, no, we’ve just got Poland. It’s much better.

[00:06:37] And then we said, Oh no, but like that wage is small, but it buys so much in China. Everything was so cheap back then. And from, from there, I stayed to learn Chinese and then I stayed to do entrepreneurship. And, uh, we, we franchised school chain and I went to inner Mongolia for a couple of years to Wechat events.

[00:06:57] And then later on I moved that safe company hired me to run, there, go to their head office and do, eventually research and development. For the, all of their, online for, for their online materials. And so this was like really, really early days for online stuff, education wise in China. And, uh, we had to sort of sell these products to Chinese parents to say, Hey, you’ve got some software now with your, with your product.

[00:07:27] And back then, you know, we were selling this into tier two, tier three city, China. Oh, it was so tough. Like those parents did not want it, like they saw no value in software, no value in online at school, very different from today. But anyway, that got me online and, and from there I went into Wechat and Wechat just blew up, but Wechat paid, went from zero to one everywhere in China.

[00:07:53] And I saw that first night, this is absolutely revolutionizing China. And so I went. I, I quit and open my own business and said, okay, we’re going to go to a, Wechat marketing. And we, so Wechat platform services and that’s how we did the conference, where most people in China know us from, and we did, we did some services around for brands as well.

[00:08:17] And I got into speaking and writing. We started blogging around, Wechat. And that’s we’re like putting out online content just started from, so, and now I’ve been, you know, moving into Douyin and Wechat, sorry, Douyin and Tiktok. It’s kind of a natural progression because I started covering Bytedance as, as a competitor, Tencent was, was my first sort of end.

[00:08:45] Okay. Of course I was on the ground when I saw the whole thing blow up in China. I had a game with Mike  in 2018 and how all these foreigners became super famous on Douyin overnight. You know, we, we covered that in our conference pretty early. And so that was pretty inspiring as well, to see that go global.

[00:09:05] Yeah, for sure. For sure. We know some of those, those Douyin foreigners too. I’m sure you did. Yeah. They’re awesome. Do you ever be tempted yourself to do something like that? Because there’s a lot of them doing it in China, right. Actually, my wife just helped me set up one well yesterday, actually, even for this show, you know, book and everything inspired me, but, each channel is so different, but yeah, we’re going to try to put some of this content.

[00:09:31] We have all this content, but it’s like a different style of content, which we’ll talk about probably in our session today. But, yeah, I mean, honestly, we finally opened an account. Yeah. Yeah. Carol’s on it too? cool. I actually got it. You got to decide Douyin and or Tiktok cause it’s completely, you got to choose.

[00:09:49] I was about to mention that as well and good that you brought the topic because I being in China, I downloaded that Douyin even back then. I’m talking about two, three years ago. And, and then I kept using it for a little while. And then when I’m not in China anymore, suddenly they don’t work anymore. So, I got,

[00:10:17] and then put it back. And then at last, like not, not being in China, I don’t have the choice on my Google app to Google play, to download going here. I have only the option to download a Tiktok. So I actually, I don’t have the domain again. I don’t, I had it back then. So, I mean, I hope that we cannot just download it anymore.

[00:10:42] The, the SIM card is the key. You got to have a Chinese SIM card active. Yeah, you can still be outside China on an old account and still use it. Like most, most mainland Chinese can go outside China and still used it yet. Yeah. And I figured that out as well. Yeah. Well, it’s really good though. It’s really good to hear about your whole story.

[00:11:04] And, it’s very inspiring because of the people who’ve been in, in, in China. We know the whole process of when we came out and then the whole, of progressive develop developer wechat and the functions and then wechat pay and so on and so on. And now we are like talking about belonging. So, it’s really fascinating.

[00:11:27] The how fast and how smart the moves are, you know? And, it’s really good to be with you today who are pretty much part of the thing. So tell us a little bit about the book. So is the book about that as well? Yeah, so the book’s totally, totally focuses on the history of the company behind Tiktok, the company behind Douyin.

[00:11:52] And it talks a lot about the early flagship products Toutiao, and Toutiao is a, is a household name in China. Everyone in China knows Toutiao. Now it’s supposedly unknown outside China but if you don’t understand Toutiao, you won’t understand why Bytedance is the company to build Tiktok right. So that’s one of the big questions we answer in the book is like, why, Bytedance?

[00:12:17] Why didn’t Facebook build this? Why didn’t Google built this? Why didn’t Tencent build this? When, when you look into the history of the company and go back to Toutiao, it becomes obvious why, why Bytedance the company to do this? And so we were just giving that backstory in that context, there’s so much.

[00:12:39] Been written and spoken about Tiktok this year. I mean, when I started this project nine months ago, I knew that it was great. I would, I’ve been pretty sure that since the 2018, I know one of the product managers there really well, and we spoke a lot about it back in the day when nobody really knew it.

[00:12:59] It wasn’t even in America, I think at the time. But because we’re on the ground and we knew we need  a lot and knew how compelling it is, it’s just an amazing user experience. So addictive that I was very confident at it do well and, as I mentioned, we saw that. Actually Douyin was kind of the first Chinese social media where foreigners did really well on the platform.

[00:13:26] You know, then you look back, Wechat there wasn’t many English language accounts on Wechat and then same for Weibo and you know, Billy, Billy or whatever, like this, there were very, very few foreigners actually getting it and doing stuff, but Douyin was totally different. There was absolutely.

[00:13:42] Non-Chinese who loved it and it worked out how to make content. And so it was a special platform quite clearly. But having said that, all of that, I never expected Tiktok to be like where it is today. In terms of like Donald Trump talking about it in terms of like getting him. You know, none of this was expected when I started the book at school and it’s not why I wrote about, I don’t really come up that much in the book to be honest.

[00:14:11] It’s, it’s not the focus. It’s not really what I’m trying to answer. But crazy, you know, I, I was writing this and going, Oh my God, No, I think I’m in a very, very weird place right now, but just kept going, catching or running about what I felt passionate about. And, uh, the reception so far has been really good actually.

[00:14:33] Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, yeah, so the book is it’s, like you said, it’s a, it’s very well researched. You there’s like pages of quotes, you know, of links, you know, so you, you really did a lot of research for this. It wasn’t just like your, your own personal experiences, um, which you do have anyway. But, uh, like I said, in, in what I noticed is.

[00:14:56] Like you said  for those that don’t know Chinese, it means headlines. So it basically means, you know, it was like a news app and I really, yeah, I really liked how you go through the story of the founder, you know, and he, even before he started. I think it’s 2012 this started if I remember the year right.

[00:15:16] Technically, but you could even say earlier he was, he was working on, uh, making so many apps. It was almost like an App factory in a way. Right? Like all you call it Attention Factory, but yeah, he, they were making so many apps so hard.

[00:15:35] You’re exactly right, right. That’s what we refer to as the original title. Yeah. And then we changed it actually based on feedback from readers. I think it’s actually a better title, but yeah, in China, most people know App Factory it’s a kind of common phrase. So we use that. I do like that as well. I think that’s, that’s good.

[00:16:00] Yeah. I mean, the book is, um, I, I wrote it with Rita Liao, uh, she’s the, uh, she, she writes for tech crunch and, um, she was editor and I was writer. So having Rita involved was really, really good. Rita has written extensively about Bytedance herself. And, she’s one of the rising stars of, I think, tech journalism in China.

[00:16:24] So I was really honored to work with her and definitely it’s, she had a big impact on the book without doubt. But yeah, there’s, there’s so many sources. Yeah. Rita, I could see in her work there too. You guys. Okay. Yeah. There’s, there’s no, right? Like there’s a lot of sources in the back and that’s because we literally, or I literally read everything about this company that’s online and we spoke to tons of people and the sources for this book are just very extensive.

[00:17:00] And that’s why it’s got quite a good reception from Bytedance staff. The people who have the best reception so far has been from Bytedance’s. Employees really like it. I think it’s actually very accurate. At least the ones who’ve reached out to us have said that. Right, right. That’s yeah. That’s uh, Oh, we lost you.

[00:17:23] And now you’re back my eye, my heart just dropped, but I’m back.

[00:17:33] Yeah. Okay. So, so the next question, uh,  can go ahead basically. Would you say this is a normal track for Chinese tech that you’ve seen, like basically just grinding out, making lots and lots of products, lots, lots of apps, or, you know, you studied, we chat. I mean, is this the normal normal path or is this a special path?

[00:17:56] It is quite normal that Chinese internet companies tend to do lots of different things. Right. They love going into different areas and doing FinTech and education, et cetera. Once they get to a size, they really like that’s quite normal. But actually with the, with the Toutiao model, with the, with the Bytedance app factory model, it’s kind of in some respects, the opposite of the wechat super app model, right?

[00:18:24] These are actually kind of opposite ways to do things in the super app model. You pack all of your services into one app. And you just layer things on top of the already existing experience. Michael starts out as well. If you go into, in China, it’s actually got quite a little, features and functionality in that, but they also build out a range of family about at the same time and they’re constantly experimenting and building out new new features.

[00:18:58] So new, new, new apps basically. So there’s kind of two different ways to do it, but at the end of the day, it’s, it’s something that I think Bytedance is famous for. Yeah, for sure. And we don’t see it too much outside China yet, but I think we will eventually, uh, they they’ve actually hired so many people this year and some of the listeners might know like I’m sure you and I might like people in and around China Westerners, like everyone’s been approached by Bytedance.

[00:19:29] To get high at, at some point, it’s really a, they’ve been hiring like crazy, they’ve, they’ve really expanded, the presence, outside China now. And then once they’ve got that sort of workforce stable and maybe Tiktok or break out into a separate company, we don’t know. You know, and at some point they’re going to start, you know, churning out apps in the same way they do in China.

[00:19:57] I’m sure. Yeah. I’m sure. Yeah. I mean, I think I don’t want to get political, but I think Facebook’s nervous. Right. I don’t know. I think they’re scared. Even Tencent’s scared. You mentioned that in the book, you didn’t, you kind of brought up Facebook too, but you’re mostly talking about even, you know, even the big, big guys in China are scared now of Bytedance, you know, Douyin and clarity’s between Tencent and Facebook.

[00:20:25] So yeah, yeah. Of like a underestimating nurse and then suddenly realizing, Oh my God, this is a friend. And that, but what’s interesting is how they react so differently. You know, in China when Tencent suddenly woke up like, Oh my God  is a threat to us. They immediately like stopped by arts advertising anywhere on any of their platforms.

[00:20:51] Like they’re just completely, we won’t take your money. Like just absolutely. You know, you can’t take our users anymore. Whereas Facebook just, you know, it’s even today, Tiktok is advertising on Facebook. So it says a lot about how these companies operate and the mindset of the higher management. It’s also, I feel like it’s also a culture thing like in the, in the West is, and I don’t know if you maybe know, but I don’t know of any anybody blocking advertising or maybe I don’t know that, but it seems much more common in China for like Taobao links to not work on Wechat and you know, like things.

[00:21:30] But I think in the West, They let the links go, but they might not, you know, like put them at the top of the feed, you know, but they let you link to it. Right. And the different culture around it. I mean, I don’t think it’s illegal for country companies to do, to say like this, this other companies are rival and we won’t allow them to advertise on our platform.

[00:21:52] I don’t think that’s, I think it’s possible for them to do that. It’s reasonable if they are a competitor. But, they don’t do it. Yeah. It’s, it’s, it’s, it is a big difference in the mindset. But you know, like in China they have this zero sum mindset around competition, uh, where I think that it’s a bit more sort of like we can grow the pie together with competitors type mindset.

[00:22:17] Agreed. Okay. So let’s, let’s go into the, I think the real, like, even with the name, Attention factory or AI, you know, machine learning, I think that’s really the secret sauce. Right? We even learn that with the Donald Trump talk, you know, in, in the whole China versus Trump or US, which, you know, I know it’s not in the book, but  the AI is the real secret sauce.

[00:22:37] And that’s kind of what you said from the, all the experience with all the apps that they were made, building and the total, which is the headline news app. They use that to really. Make the app really sticky because it wasn’t like, it’s not really about how many followers you have. Right. It’s not like if I follow somebody, I see this, their videos, it’s really about what I’m watching and it, and it will show more content based on what I am consuming.

[00:23:02] Right. That’s kind of like, as a lot of people say what you just said, right? Like that it’s totally algorithmic recommendation and you can have zero followers and still go viral. Yeah, technically you can, and that’s correct, but in a photo is actually do matter as well. I mean, like it’s, uh, influencers on the platform who regularly, uh, you know, their content gets higher engagement, even if know, every video that they do gets high engagement.

[00:23:32] And that’s because they have a following. Right. So, it does actually, you know, the dynamics around being an influence on the platform are actually more similar to other platforms that people have said, to be honest, um, you do need to build engagement over time. But individual pieces of content. I think the variation that can be much, much larger.

[00:23:56] So, you do see a lot of accounts where they’re meant to be influencers. Because they’ve had like two or three very viral videos, but then the rest of their content has very low engagement. That’s not uncommon. Yeah. Especially back in the day when people didn’t understand it, there were people were saying, I’m an influencer, just to sort of get brands to come in and pay them.

[00:24:22] What they do. What they’ve done is like create. They copied like three different viral videos and managed to latch on to some trends to build up some numbers. And then they bought a lot of bot followers and the whole thing was basically a fraud, uh, that was actually, quite common in 2018. When brands didn’t understand it.

[00:24:43] Got it. Yeah. Yeah, that, that that’s, that is also on the other side that the whole world get to understand the influences while the KOL is back then in China, because. The, you know, just for the sake of the term KOL started in and the rest of the world. Um, I remember myself with a couple of clients trying to talk about the KOL to now.

[00:25:06] You’re like, what is the KOL? So, um, it’s, it’s when the whole terminology terminologies that are you trying to ask. Well, yeah. Yeah, that’s true. I mean, we try, I try to use the word influencer throughout the book and avoid KOL. Yeah, well, Brand as a China specific might feel for most sets of purposes, you know, you can exchange influencer in KOL that they’re close enough.

[00:25:31] Yeah, that’s fine. Now in terms of the growth hacking. So, the whole app pre-sell it was, it was really fascinating to, to learn about Douyin. What’s a top buyer to the free app download on, on mobile phones back in, in 2013. So, yeah, you explain a little bit more in terms of like the whole pre-sell back then in Shengen, yeah, the time back in Shengen, when everything was popping into that or directing you to that, you mentioned that in the book.

[00:26:10] So you went out, develop a little bit more the app, all that happened. Yeah, sure. I mean, that’s one section of the book that’s an exclusive, it’s super interesting because it really speaks to how Chinese companies growth hack and will destroy tracking main in China. It’s a, it’s a really excellent case study of that.

[00:26:34] And it’s a part it’s a part of the history of the company that they company doesn’t like to talk about. And that, but it’s real. It’s very real. So how we got onto it was in know early on during doing research for the book I was asking, you know, VCs and people who I already trusted, who were very connected in the industry and should know what they’re talking about.

[00:26:58] And I respected their opinion and said like, what’s the secret sauce for like the arts? You know, what do they get? What’s really driving this company. And you’re expecting them to say AI and recommendation and algorithms. And they were like, yeah, they’re good at that stuff butt don’t get, don’t get us wrong.

[00:27:14] That’s that’s actually, you know, that that’s true. But, they’re also, the growth team is really, really, really important. And I would say just as important as the as the recommendation. So I was looking into it. I was like, what do, I mean, there’s growth team and like what you can’t find anything online about this.

[00:27:33] That, you know, there’s not this, there’s no information saying like what they did. I had to dig it all out and, speaking to people and do my own research. And then I discovered that they fast track the whole company with this app pre-installed campaign. And it’s fair to say that without that, I don’t think.

[00:27:52] We’d see Tiktok today with great. They actually grew the company very significantly, through pre-installed the apps onto Android phones, from 2013 to 2016 today, you can’t do this right today. It’s, it’s already closed these kinds of like apps. They don’t last very long, right? You can’t, uh, if it’s good people start using it and people start abusing it.

[00:28:20] And then suddenly, you know, it gets overused and it’s not a secret anymore in the industry, et cetera. So all of these dynamics quickly play out, but there was about a two year window where bite dance basically paid more than anybody else in the whole of China. To have their app pre-installed on pretty much every device that they could, you know, pay a reasonable price for.

[00:28:45] And these are all Android devices. It’s not iOS, right? It’s not in China. Most. Back in the day, you know, you could actually pay for a distributor. So after our phones left the factory, so it’s left the Huawei factory or the  MI factory and it’s on its way. It hasn’t been sold to a consumer yet. And somewhere along the distribution train, You can pay people to actually put your app on the phone and people don’t care.

[00:29:17] What apps are on the phone, at least in China. No. None of the consumers really knew or cared about this enough for it to be an issue. They just need that the hardware, right. They were like, okay, I just want this to show me phone. And it’s got the battery life and it’s got the screen size and this is the price.

[00:29:35] Obviously that’s what people are looking at. I don’t care if it’s like 12 apps or if there’s 20 apps on the phone, it doesn’t really matter. So. They, they took advantage of that and then put that app on, but pay to get the gray market. Right. It’s not illegal, but it’s kind of a gray area. Like it should probably be illegal laws doing it to my knowledge.

[00:30:00] Right. And I don’t say in this company did anything illegal. In fact, so from what I can tell, it was quite common. Yeah, totally. But they just did it the most by far the most. And they drove the prices up in the industry and everyone complained about my bite. Not suspending too much on this slightly driving the fences up.

[00:30:22] Yeah. I mean, the company grew from like tens of millions through to like multiple hundreds of millions of users. Right, right. That’s actually, I have to say that I, I take it very inspiring in terms of like, my years in China, it’s pretty, educational in terms of like Chinese. Like why you just say, it’s like, you do what it takes to do whatever I want to do.

[00:30:48] And, and, and that’s something I keep it to myself as NPV, too. That was a really good lesson that I, I got to see from China because companies, what you’d say about Dan is doing that and always, you know, back then, the Didi competing with Uber and stuff and the way that they beat them. So it’s just interesting that, how China companies are.

[00:31:13] Always growing. That’s why they go super fast. So, and again, talking about moving fast, Tiktok is also a really good media and window for the e-commerce sellers. So suddenly we see tons of sellers making tons of money at this. I mean, it’s just amazing when you get to see, like, it’s very, it’s very addictive to scroll down the Tiktok because you get, you get to see tons of sellers and how the traditional, even those.

[00:31:43] Outside of the main cities, they are using it to sell whatever eggs, meat, whatever it is. So a little bit about that.

[00:31:58] A lot of people interested in that, you know, and rightly so, because. One of the great things around this for den is it’s quite different from everything else we look at. We’ve tried to innovation around mobile because so often with stuff that happens in China, it stays in China. Right. So like all of these cool things happen on we chat, you know, you’ve got mates when you’ve got Alipay, you’ve got all these like amazing consumer services, you know, build or whatever, you know, super cheap, but it doesn’t really translate outside China.

[00:32:34] And so you end up as you know, in my position where I’m explaining what’s happening in China to people all the time. I’m constantly struggling to make it relevant to that, to that well, because the online infrastructure in the West that say, and in China is just very, very different. And, and, and so this is one of the very first times where China really very, very clearly is a window into the future.

[00:32:59] So if you know what happens on Douyin now, today, that is what will happen on Tiktok in like 18 months. For sure. I know this from speaking to the teams, like the product roadmap Tiktok is very similar to what Douyin is already today. So if you know the trends on, on the UN today, you’re, you’re, you actually can be very confident that this is going to happen on Tiktok.

[00:33:22] And yep. So as markets digital, yeah, marketers, like you can actually get ready for this wave, knowing e-commerce is coming right. If you want to build an account today on Tiktok. You can be pretty confident that you’ll be able to do some form of e-commerce similar to Douyin in six months. That’s absolutely coming.

[00:33:45] So it is quite rare that you get this like very clear window. It’s very simple. It’s like, if you want to see what tick tops like look at  right. What it’s going to be like. And that’s, Douyin has got tons of eCommerce 

[00:34:00] happening. And so that’s why you’re seeing, Tiktok announced deals with Shopify, you know, like a or a Walmart, right.

[00:34:10] Or not got involved with the Oracle deal. I was trying to, and so why are these, why this company, why is e-commerce enablers getting involved with a social media platform? It doesn’t make any sense to most, most people, but if you know, Douyin and it makes total sense. Awesome. Yeah. I mean, we’re seeing in our communities, a lot of Amazon sellers, e-commerce sellers studying this closely and investing a lot into this.

[00:34:38] And, it’s I would agree. I think anybody doing e-commerce right now should be. At least studying this, if not like investing in this other, building up their own channel or influencer networking, it’s definitely the future. This has been fascinating. I mean, of course there’s way, much more. The book is very, very comprehensive, so I I’ve read it.

[00:34:57] I’ve given a review. I recommend others to also check out the book. Is there audio version or is it’s Kindle, there’s paper? Yeah. I’ll be recording that probably hopefully this month. Hopefully it

[00:35:13] is to record that. Read a book out loud, perfectly. We not, maybe occasionally doing some character voices when you’re speaking as other people it’s actually a lot more work than I thought and you got to get a studio and dub properly. Otherwise it sounds, it, it won’t sound professional looking forward because

[00:35:39] a lot of people, the audio Yeah. I mean, I clearly the target audience side going forward does listen to a lot of podcasts. And, they love audio content. So some people, you know, they only listen to audio books. Right. So, yeah. Okay, great. I’m bringing up Zach, Zack Franklin. I don’t know if he’s got video of working, but we’re kind of Zack, Zack, Zack, Zack.

[00:36:07] Mostly guys. Yeah. Yeah, we just thought we’d bring in for the last couple of questions at the end. Appreciate you tuning in, what, you know, you’re, you’re obviously very active in the Amazon space and working in China too. So you see this Tiktok in e-commerce. What are your, what are your thoughts or, or do you have anything else you’d like to add?

[00:36:31] I mean, Tiktok, I’m addicted to it myself. It’s super, super good at figuring this stuff out and you know, it’s easy because it’s just super short form video and you get hooked on it. The challenge for brands of course, is it’s really hard to make us like a six second video that’s super engaging and the angle.

[00:36:54] For marketing your products, you know, you can’t really sell like a really boring product for anything that’s very like short and intense and exciting. Like Tiktok is you need to like have some kind of visually interesting product or find some really unique angle on it for it to make a good video.

[00:37:15] And I think that that is really the challenge. You know, it can’t be like something as easy as a Google shopping ad where you just pop something up. And if people are searching like water bottle, they find it and you don’t have a lot of creative work. So sellers that have a very. Strong creative team or a strong product for this can do really, really well.

[00:37:39] But if you’re not one of those things, tick-tock is clearly not going to be your channel. Got it. Oh, it comes down to really knowing yourself, knowing your market and knowing what can you like a six second video. Okay. 

[00:38:00] The video Zack, Zack’s a founder. You have a few projects, seller.deal, which is a new one you’re doing for, for sellers to get deal doing great.

[00:38:11] Awesome. So that’s the one I’m going to keep pushing right now single-handedly. Like I have enough customers. I don’t need any more handling unless you want a lot of Amazon reviews. We’re like maxed out. So I think we’re going to go to networking mode. This is going to wrap up the last Q and a, but definitely everybody.

[00:38:32] You know, beauty about Kindle is I got to download this as soon as it came out, the Attention Factory. So it’s on Amazon. I think there’s paperback too. I think it’s definitely Kindle paperback and audio is coming. So thanks so much for coming on and sharing with us today. We’ll have a little bit of time.

[00:38:54] Yeah, go ahead. Sorry, go ahead Matt. I was just going to say most people got paperback. Actually. I was kind of didn’t expect that. I expected Kindle to do better.  Paperback’s doing better. Yeah. So it’s pretty good. Interesting, interesting. Well, for me in China, it’s easier to get the digital, but if anybody. Yeah. Yeah, we have no choice, but thanks again, Matt.

[00:39:23] Everybody, please support him. It’s like, it’s really obviously so affordable. It’s like a very affordable price. You know, and then Amazon sellers know, reviews help. I left in a review, but it deserves it. It’s a good book. And I really appreciate you, Matt, for sharing on the show and in your previous help with, speaking at events and, and also I support your events and everything so well for those in the, in the Member’s room.

[00:39:49] We’re going to go to networking. So it’s going to be some tables. If you’re on Facebook or our podcast, it’ll be, uh, it’ll be out wrapping up now. So, thank you everybody. Just to hang out. If you’re on our, uh, on the actual, uh, live session, I have a newsletter every Thursday night, we call it GFA pulse.

[00:40:05] And what we try to do is talk about what’s happening in our community. A little bit more about what content we’re making special offers, you know, freebies, giveaways, you know, special webinars. If you do want to get into this information. Actually some people have unsubscribed by mistake or we’ve put this switch lists lately.

[00:40:21] So maybe if you did stop getting them, for some reason, we did do a huge upgrade of our email system. So you might have to resubscribe, I’m embarrassed to say that, but globalfromasia.com/subscribe and people seem to like it. So hope you do too. All. I thank everybody for going all the way through Matt’s interview.

[00:40:39] I hope you enjoyed it. We also had some people in the community engaging on the show, asking some questions. So that’s really fun. I’m actually enjoying trying to share the stage, bring more people on board. So I’d love to know more what you are working on as well. And I’ve gotten some good feedback from the new format of the show.

[00:40:57] You know, I know we’ve been seven years at Global from Asia, 2013 and we’re trying different ways. You know, we we’re all locked down in COVID or, you know, or do more, more online. I’m trying to be more interactive trying to also give more benefits to our gfavip.com members. So they get to access to guests and me when we record it.

[00:41:15] And it’s actually a lot more fun, although there’s a lot more stress because I just feel like in a video used to just be me behind a microphone, audio only like Skype back in the day, but now we’re doing video and audio and live streaming and facebook.com/globalfromasia or globalfromasia.com/youtube.

[00:41:34] For those two channels. We also get this Wendy. My amazing wife is getting us set up on Douyin itself. Finally, if we ask some short videos there and we’re trying to be as many places as possible, we are a content machine, I think Matt even said on the show or it’s me privately. So I do hope everybody’s enjoying, I am going to actually do another.

[00:41:52] Session, we’re doing these so many, we had amazing 11.11 here at Global From Asia with two back-to-back shows and we’re doing webinars and a lot happening. If you’re not on our email list, definitely take advantage of that. Globalfromasia.com/subscribe. You can choose to also get our onboarding email course, little mini course, or just get into newsletters.

[00:42:14] We do spend a lot of time making those as well. So thanks again for tuning in. And I don’t know, do you like video or audio? Let us know, send us an email blog@globalfromasia.com or mike@globalfromasia.com. My team, and I will be checking those. Thank you. To get more info about running an international business.

[00:42:34] Please visit our website at www.globalfromasia.com. That’s www.globalfromasia.com. Also be sure to subscribe to our iTunes feed. Thanks for tuning in.

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