TikTok, known in China as Douyin, was launched by ByteDance in Beijing, China in Sep 2016, originally under the name A.me, before rebranding to Douyin (抖音) in Dec 2016.
ByteDance planned on Douyin expanding overseas. The founder of ByteDance, Zhang Yiming, stated that "China is home to only one-fifth of Internet users globally. If we don’t expand on a global scale, we are bound to lose to peers eyeing the four-fifths. So, going global is a must."
On Nov 9, 2017, TikTok's parent company, ByteDance, spent up to US$1B to purchase Musical, a startup headquartered in Shanghai with an overseas office in Santa Monica, California, US.
Musical.ly was a social media video platform that allowed users to create short lip-sync and comedy videos, initially released in Aug 2014.
TikTok merged with musical.ly on 2 Aug 2018 to create a larger video community, with existing accounts and data consolidated into one app, keeping the title TikTok.