In an interesting change of scenery from US-China TikTok drama (update here
), China’s social media giants are turning on each other. Beijing-based ByteDance sued
Tencent on Tuesday for abusing its “market dominance.”
The allegations. ByteDance claims Tencent violated Chinese antitrust laws by blocking access to content from Douyin (TikTok’s Chinese twin) on WeChat and QQ (Tencent’s messaging apps). It’s asking Tencent for 90 million yuan ($14 million) in compensation.
Old rivalry: the two tech giants have been arch-rivals for years. Bytedance is:
- Swallowing an increasing share of user’s screen time with Duoyin.
- Aiming to take Tencent’s throne in the gaming and payment industries.
Tencent, on the other hand, has built a walled garden via WeChat, policing the content and services its 1 billion users can interact with. The result? Many, many fights between the two companies.
New rules: this
fight, though, is different. Last year, Chinese regulators drew up
landmark antitrust laws for the tech sector, aimed mostly at chipping away Jack Ma’s Alibaba. Angela Zhang, antitrust expert at the University of Hong Kong, says
Beijing’s new policy initiatives could work in ByteDance’s favor.
Tit-for-tat. At this point, it’s unclear how China’s new anti-monopoly rules will interact with ByteDance and Tencent’s escalating turf war. One hiccup though: the central government’s antitrust bureau only has 45 staff, meaning it could struggle to pull together the manpower needed for enforcement action this big.
Another Chinese tech giant is edging its way into the arena; TikTok rival Kuaishou went public via IPO in Hong Kong this week, with its share price nearly tripling
on Friday. The upside: investor appetite for tech companies remains strong despite the Alibaba saga.