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Sohu tests new office app as workplace collaboration tools see hyper-growth

Known for its search engine Sogou, the firm wants to become an unexpected competitor in the workplace collaboration space.

Image credit to 123rf.com.cn.

As apps enabling remote work have boomed amid the coronavirus outbreak, internet company Sohu has been testing its own Slack-like platform, dubbed “Little E”, TechPlanet reported.

Little E provides basic functions including instant message, task approval, organizational charts, attendance tracking, and video conferencing. However, it also lacks some popular segment features including file transfers, payments, and voice-to-text conversion, the report said.

The app is now available for iOS, Android, and PC. However, Little E is still in testing, meaning that teams who want to try must ask Sohu for login access.

With millions of employees working from home due to the coronavirus outbreak, workplace collaboration has become one of China’s hottest sectors with no lack of established players—namely Alibaba’s DingTalk, Tencent’s WeChat Work, ByteDance’s Lark and Huawei’s WeLink.

DingTalk has occupied the top spot on Apple’s China App Store for nearly one month, according to data provider Qimai.

Beijing-headquartered Sohu, founded in 1996, was among the first batch of Chinese internet companies and is known for its news portal Sohu.com and its search engine Sogou, the country’s second-largest after Baidu.

Despite losing its luster in recent years, Sohu, which has businesses in gaming, search, video streaming, and media, expects to turn profitable in 2020. CEO Charles Zhang made the announcement during an earnings call after the company reported total revenues of USD 482 million and a declining net loss of USD 17 million for the third quarter of 2019.

On February 7, the company lifted its fourth-quarter expected revenue to between USD 465 million and USD 500 million.