The ALSMA Executive Insights Series

The Executive Insights series involves single topic interviews with leaders local search from around the APAC region.
These interviews will be candid, informative and insightful. 

Episode Two: Matthew Brennan, co-founder, China Channel (China)

In Episode Two of the ALSMA Executive Insight Series, we chat with Matthew Brennan, co-founder of China Channel and author of the new book, “The Attention Factory” — an in -depth look at TikTok and its parent company Byte Dance. 


Our conversation with Matthew covers TikTok’s origins, the secrets to its success, how it makes money, and its controversies. In particular, we discussed concerns over the platform's privacy. 
Matthew says concerns about TikTok’s privacy are legitimate. But they are no different than the concerns consumers should have about Facebook or Instagram. 


"I think it's totally legitimate if you are concerned about privacy to not use those platforms,” Matthew said. "It is a trade off, right? You're getting a free service, which means you are the product."


TikTok, for all its success thus far, has just scratched the surface of its revenue opportunities, Matthew contends. 


“Today, it has got very light monetization, it's really in the early stages,” Matthew said. “It’s further ahead in Asia than it is in Europe and North America. But even in Asia, it's still fairly early."

Episode One: James Ciuffetelli, former Executive General Manager, Sensis (Australia)

The inaugural episode features an interview with James Ciuffetelli, former GM Digital at Sensis. James offers an assessment of the lessons learned from the directory industry’s multiple transformations over the course of his 30+ year career. 

James relieved some pivot points where the industry made choices that sealed its long-term fate. One of these pivot points was the emergence of Google and the industry’s failure to mount an effective response.  “Because we all stayed so isolated in our own markets, we failed to take advantage of the benefits of global scale,” James said. “And we all ended up adapted our games to their model." James now consults for large organizations on how to manage through transformation and change. 
James Ciuffetelli

TikTok and short video: Emerging opportunities for SMBs

In ALSMA/SIINDA 2020, Matthew Brennan gave a in-depth presentation on TikTok and short video. The speech covered the followings: the Background of short video and live stream e-commerce, market size, user numbers, growth etc.; SMB case studies of TikTok and live stream platforms in China; marketing best practice/pitfalls; and future projections.

The video will be available soon...

Matthew Brennan, China Tech | Speaker | Writer | WeChat & Tencent Specialist

Matthew is a speaker and writer focusing on Chinese mobile technology and innovation. His opinions are regularly featured in global media such as Bloomberg, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, BBC, The Financial Times, CNBC. Matthew has been based in mainland China for over 16 years, speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese and organizes China’s largest WeChat digital marketing conference for international companies.


Matthew has delivered presentations for companies including Google, Tencent, DHL, NBC Universal, Boston Consulting Group, LinkedIn, Schneider Electric and L’Oréal Group as well as for a large number of industry association conferences. He delivers a combination of inspiration and insight into the new wave of Chinese digital innovation.

Matthew Brennan

TikTok & ByteDance - New Report, New Book

Check out Matthew Brennan's new book: Attention Factory - The Story of TikTok and China's ByteDance. 300+ pages of original analysis and exclusive reporting about China's fastest-growing tech company.

This is not a re-hash of stuff you've already read. The book is packed with analysis and insight that cannot find elsewhere. Even ByteDance staff who've read it, have commented on how surprised they were at some of the things the author dug-out over 9 months of research and writing. The entire work was edited by China-based TechCrunch journalist Rita Liao who has herself has written extensively about the company.



To celebrate the launch, a free report "Understanding TikTok & ByteDance" is now available to give a teaser on some of the book's content. The 47 slides covering ByteDance's rapid rise.

  • Outline of the company’s unique structure
  • Bios of the company’s top executives
  • An extensive list of ByteDance’s products
  • Company history, office locations, investors
  • TikTok’s dual flywheels and recommendation engine