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ByteDance challenges Baidu, plans to build its original search engine

ByteDance announces on WeChat that the company has started recruiting talent to build from scratch a general search engine for all internet users.

The Chinese company that has given hundreds of millions of people their 15 seconds of fame on video app TikTok is now planning to gift the internet a new product: a search engine aimed at the China market.

According to a KrAsia interview on Thursday, ByteDance said the general search function has been launched within the Toutiao app, allowing its users to view search results beyond contents inside the app. KrAsia tried the keyword “spring” and found that search results are similar to search results from Baidu and Sogou, the second largest search engine in China.

ByteDance’s new venture will be seen as a challenge to China’s most widespread search engine, Baidu, which has faced repeated criticism over its search algorithm. Baidu has also caused disappointment for allegedly promoting misinformation in regards to visa agencies and health treatments, among other products and services.

Google has been out of service in mainland China since 2010, and its recent efforts to come back to the region failed due to internal and external protests. “One day in the future, when a new search engine appears on each individual’s phone, you will be the creator of it,” a message from ByteDance to its future employees.

ByteDance was founded in 2012 and was valued at $75 billion last September. On Monday, ByteDance also announced that it is developing its first smartphone in collaboration with the Chinese consumer electronics company Smartisan.