Less than two weeks ago, ByteDance, China’s most valuable startup set out to recruit technical personnel to build its own search engine from scratch, separate from the general search function that lives within its Toutiao content aggregator app.
Now, the company’s search portal has gone online, though it is optimized for mobile only.
The search engine is called Toutiao Search, and has a tagline that translates as “search for what you want to see.”
A spokesperson for ByteDance said the company has no plans to release a standalone search engine app for the time being.
Toutiao Search is meant to function like a generic search engine, but also highlight content shared on ByteDance’s platforms, including Weitoutiao, where Toutiao’s verified users share public posts, and the company’s short video app Douyin, which is the domestic analogue to the globally popular TikTok.
During the recent earnings call for Sogou, China’s second largest search engine, CEO Xiaochuan Wang admitted that ByteDance’s entry into this space has had a negative impact on search advertising revenue for his company. Sogou reported that its total revenue increased only 1% year-on-year to USD 303.6 million.