TikTok’s parent ByteDance turns its attention to search business

The logo of TikTok application is seen on a screen in this picture illustration taken February 21, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui/Illustration

When Google pulled out of the China market in 2010, it left local leader Baidu Inc. a de facto monopoly in the lucrative internet search business. Now that franchise is facing its most ominous threat yet.

ByteDance Ltd., an innovative Beijing startup that created the hit video app TikTok, is moving into search in a threat to the advertising business that has fueled Baidu’s profit. ByteDance, known for aggressively recruiting top tech talent, is turning its attention to one of the most lucrative businesses online.

Baidu declined to comment.

ByteDance likely won’t create a standalone search engine, a Baidu- or Google-like site users would go to from a personal computer or smartphone, because that’s not how most people in China use search. Instead, ByteDance’s search will be embedded within its own apps, beginning with its Jinri Toutiao news service. That will allow users to quickly search for related news, information or products — and ByteDance will be able to profit from search and display advertising.

Zhang Yiming, ByteDance’s founder, has begun to show the world his far-reaching ambition to create a global technology giant. After creating the popular Toutiao in China, he turned TikTok into a global hit, with fans from Beijing to Boston and Bangalore. The valuation of his seven-year-old startup has surged to $75 billion, more than any startup in the world. It’s now looking to expand with more apps and its own smartphone — one more reason a search service would be useful.

Baidu, meanwhile, has struggled with encroachment from larger rivals Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Tencent Holdings Ltd. Robin Li, Baidu’s founder and CEO, has seen his fortunes slide as the market value of his company has tumbled. The search leader is now valued at $39 billion, about half what it was two years earlier.

Bloomberg

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.