On August 2nd 2018, the famous smart-phone application, Musical.ly acquired a new name – ‘Tik Tok including Musical.ly’. This was a direct result of the takeover of Musical.ly by Bytedance Technology Co. On 9th November 2017. The video-creating fun social media application has taken the world over, with its quirky features and high reach. With over 300 million registered users, and more than 100 million videos being created every single day, Musical.ly is a sensation which the 21st century cannot possibly ignore. From being funny to positively irritating, the Musical.ly videos shared by your friends are hard to miss. And now with the name Tik Tok, the application continues to rage on.
The origins of this exuberance-inducing application were as related to the modern version as elephants were to dinosaurs. Co-founder Alex Zhu had already earned a reputation for being educationally inclined, earning the title ‘education futurist’ during his tenure with software giants SAP. When, along with his friend, Louis Yang, Zhu decided to build his own start-up, it was quite evident which sector he would target. The ‘cicada’ application which the duo was keenly trying to develop was to be an educational platform, where experts would share videos on varying topics.
After raising USD 250,000 from the investors to start-up this company, the duo realized that it wouldn’t work as per their plans. The idea was to incorporate educational topics in 3 minutes, which the experts and other contributors found hard to do. Zhu’s inspiration was from the MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses), which he thought were great, but no one really completed them. ‘Cicada’s aim was to popularize the educational topics by making learning a lot of fun.
The idea never worked. The content creation was a challenge, and the ultimate result failed to capture the imagination of the demographic which the app targeted. With only 8% of the capital in the kitty, Zhu and Yang tried to turn around the concept to fit another genre, by utilizing the leftover cash, instead of simply returning it to the investors. The idea’s inception was during a train journey where Zhu observed early teens immersed in taking selfies, selfie-videos and listening to music on their smartphones. Zhu’s idea was to develop the three into one app which could be a social media platform for people to meet and interact.
This new idea greatly excited the developers. The concept was to enable people to take selfies or videos, combine them with music and share it so that the other users can view and comment on them. The team worked nights and the application was ready in a month. Musical.ly was launched on July 2014, and the rest, as they say, is history.
A one of a kind application when it was first launched, Musical.ly captured the people’s imagination and became one of the most downloaded applications on Play Store. Even though it has been rebranded as Tik Tok, the popularity never ceased. The next time you are on Play Store, try downloading the application and using it. It might be goofy, but bringing out the inner child in you is not bad. And God knows, we could do with a few more laughs in our lives.