How did an app designed by two guys in Shanghai managed to run circles around U.S. video apps from YouTube to Facebook to Instagram to Snapchat, becoming the most fertile source for meme origination, mutation, and dissemination in a culture so different from the one in which it was built?
The answer, I believe, has significant implications for the future of cross-border tech competition, as well as for understanding how product developers achieve product-market-fit. The rise of TikTok updated my thinking. It turns out that in some categories, a machine learning algorithm significantly responsive and accurate can pierce the veil of cultural ignorance. Today, sometimes culture can be abstracted.