Foundering is an award-winning, serialized podcast from the journalists at Bloomberg Technology. Each season, Foundering brings you inside a different high-stakes drama from the technology industry, where its companies are wielding unprecedented capital and power.
Season 2, Episode 5, Should We Be Worried About Our Data?
After Donald Trump is elected president, tensions between the United States and China escalate. Several American politicians, security experts and even Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg turn their attention toward TikTok. In this episode, reporter Shelly Banjo looks into the fundamental question facing TikTok: What user data does TikTok collect, and can that information wind up in the hands of the Chinese government?
Season 2, Episode 4, Are The Kids All Right?
While TikTok is known primarily as a breeding ground for funny memes, dance routines and lip-synching videos, there’s a dark side to TikTok that starts with the young children who populate the app. In this episode, reporter Shelly Banjo looks into the consequences of TikTok’s failure to safeguard its adolescent user base. Warning: This episode contains difficult and disturbing reporting, including stories about the sexual exploitation of minors.
Season 2, Episode 3, ‘I’ll Be Making Bank! Hopefully.’
TikTok has redefined American pop culture and upended the music industry, advertising and the economics of fame. In this episode, reporter Shelly Banjo examines TikTok’s hands-on approach with its creators and artists, minting a new generation of social media stars and positioning TikTok’s parent company as the first Chinese tech giant to come out with a truly global consumer app.
Season 2, Episode 2, The Silent Force from China
TikTok is powered by sophisticated artificial intelligence that predicts what users want to see next. This technology was developed at ByteDance, TikTok’s Chinese parent company and the most valuable startup in the world. In this episode, reporter Shelly Banjo explains how ByteDance founder and CEO Zhang Yiming fundamentally changed how a generation consumes media on their phones.
Season 2, Episode 1, An Epiphany on a Train
Alex Zhu, a Chinese tech entrepreneur, was seated on a train in Silicon Valley across from a group of teenagers. He watched as the kids were listening to music and making videos on their phones, and he decided to create an app that combined the two cultural obsessions. The resulting platform would become the social media powerhouse now known as TikTok. In this episode, reporter Shelly Banjo explains the genesis of Gen Z’s favorite app.
Coming Soon: A New Season of Foundering
TikTok emerged as the defining app of a generation: a cultural tastemaker, a musical hitmaker and a launchpad for a new breed of celebrity. But as the app reached over 2 billion downloads, TikTok became a victim of its own success, attracting sharp scrutiny from the world’s two most powerful countries. In this season of Foundering, Bloomberg Technology reporter Shelly Banjo tracks the rise of TikTok by taking listeners inside the mysterious Chinese mega-startup behind the phenomenon and the political hysteria that followed.