Whether we agree or not, it’s undeniable that TikTok is a global phenomenon. The video-based social media app has 689 million monthly active users as of March 2021. 

Most people know TikTok as the app to look for new viral dance moves or an excellent place to learn some new hacks. However, even the most dedicated users probably didn’t know that the base tech that TikTok was created from was inspired by one Caltrain ride, as revealed in the first episode of season two of Bloomberg’s Foundering podcast.

Alex  Zhu, a tech entrepreneur, was living in the Bay Area in 2014. He took a Caltrain ride from San Francisco to Mountain View and observed that the behavior of teenagers revolved around two things: listening to music and taking videos and photos. 

He realized that an entertainment app is an easier entrepreneurial path than his previous education app, so he went all in on fun” to create Musical.ly. The company behind TikTok would then acquire the app, merging the technology, and launching TikTok in 2018.