ByteDance, which created the video app TikTok, launched a search feature on its website and is now looking to design a search feature to enter markets other than social media.
A job listing suggests the company is looking to “break through the ceiling of traditional search engines.” It plans to build a search team by “applying large-scale machine learning and other methods … more suitable for search.”
The search team already has technical experts from Google, Baidu, Bing, and 360, according to the post.
ByteDance apparently built a search engine for Toutiao, its news and information content platform, but has no plans to release a standalone search app, according to a ByteDance spokesperson.
"For Toutiao Search, we don't have plans to launch an independent search app for now," she wrote in an email to Search Marketing Daily.
The new engine is called Toutiao Search, optimized only for mobile.
The search feature pulls in results from the web and other ByteDance properties. Users only will see results, such as breaking news or other content, from state-approved media sites in China.
Reports estimate that ByteDance is one of the most valuable private technology firms in the world, with an estimated worth of about $75 billion.
The company also owns a news aggregator, installed on more than 250 million monthly unique devices, that uses algorithms to suggest articles and videos.
Toutiao Search has a tough competitor in the China’s market. Baidu, the leading competitor, holds 76% of the search engine market, according to Statcounter.
Zhang Yiming, who founded ByteDance in 2012, holds a Bachelor’s degree in Software Engineering from Nankai University. He has been called a “serial entrepreneur.” He participated in or founded several ventures prior to ByteDance, such as Kuxun, a travel and transportation search engine in China that was later acquired by TripAdvisor, according to the company’s website.