Wu Haifeng, a former Baidu (NASDAQ: BIDU) vice president in charge of the company’s search business, and executive director Sun Wenyu, who was under Wu’s direct leadership, have joined ByteDance, online news outlet news.qq.com reported on Monday, citing unidentified sources. The appointment comes as the TikTok owner struggles to gain a foothold in China’s search engine market.
Wu, who served Baidu for 13 years, and Sun, who served for 12, left around May 2019 after a management reshuffle that saw Wu replaced by Shen Dou to lead the company’s search engine operations, according to the report.
The pair waited for their one-year non-compete agreements at Baidu to expire before going over to ByteDance. They join a growing list of prominent ex-Baidu executives at the social media giant, which includes Tan Dai, once the chief architect of Baidu’s search arm.
Both ByteDance and Baidu declined to comment when contacted by KrASIA on Tuesday.
ByteDance has been developing its search engine business since early last year, and it unveiled a mobile search portal called Toutiao Search last August and a standalone search app with the same name this February, KrASIA reported.
However, ByteDance’s search app has yet to win noticeable market share as Baidu and Sogou remain the largest two players in the sector, followed by Haosou, Google, Bing, and Shenma, data from market research firm Statcounter shows.
Although ByteDance was still lagging far behind Baidu in the search engine sector, it has managed to surpass Baidu as the second-largest digital advertising player in China in 2019, KrASIA reported in June, citing data from market research firm QuestMobile. Baidu collected USD 15 billion in total revenue in fiscal year 2019, 73% of which was from advertisements placed on its platforms, while ByteDance made USD 20 billion in revenue, 86% of which was earned from advertisers.