ByteDance, the company behind viral apps including TikTok and Jinri Toutiao, has bought a 22.2% stake in online encyclopedia Baike.com, corporate registry records show.
The acquisition makes ByteDance the largest shareholder of Baike.com. By investing in Baike.com, ByteDance seeks to hone the competitive edge of its search business. ByteDance officially launched its proprietary search engine earlier this month, pitting itself against top dog Baidu on a new front.
Baike.com, which was set up in 2005 in Beijing, is a major competitor of Baidu’s online encyclopedia service Baidu Baike. The two online reference platforms have long been locked in a feud.
In December 2010, Baike’s founder Pan Haidong published an open letter to Baidu’s founder Robin Li, accusing Baidu of unfair competition. About two months later, Baike.com submitted an application to the country’s market regulator to request an anti-monopoly probe against Baidu.
Later that year, Baidu sued Baike.com’s founder Pan Haidon for defamation. In August 2011, Pan was fined RMB 120,000 and requested by the court to publicly apologize to Baidu.