Caixin
May 21, 2020 07:48 PM
BUSINESS & TECH

ByteDance Gets Into Online Health With Acquisition of Medical Encyclopedia Site

Bytedance's offices in Shanghai on Tuesday.
Bytedance's offices in Shanghai on Tuesday.

Chinese tech giant ByteDance Ltd. has purchased medical knowledge platform Baikemy.com, making a foray into the field of online health content.

A ByteDance subsidiary completed its acquisition of the website’s operating entity, Beijing Baikekangxun Technology Co. Ltd., on Friday. The amount ByteDance paid was not disclosed.

Yan Shou, head of the ByteDance’s strategic investment and gaming businesses, has taken over management of Baikemy from its founder and chairman Zhu Xiaobin, and CEO Zhu Mengqiu. Yan is also the company’s new legal representative.

In a response to Caixin inquiries, ByteDance said it acquired the company to primarily to fill out its “content ecosystem,” and that it had no other online health care plans at this stage. The company expects the site, one of the country’s largest medical knowledge platforms, to provide more professional medical science content for its other products, including news app Toutiao, short-video app Douyin, and Watermelon Video.

Baikemy.com, which bills itself as a medical encyclopedia, is currently the only designated website for a popular science project initiated by China’s National Health Commission.

Founded in 2010, the company behind the website was registered to do business related to health care, including in information services, health management and light counseling activities — excluding those subject to approval by health authorities. Its content offerings mainly rely on collaboration with doctors and other medical professionals, despite claims that it uses artificial intelligence technologies.

Before the deal, the website raised some $10 million in a B series funding round led by Cenova Ventures in October. As of the end of 2018, the site’s senior management held a controlling 74% stake, and its early investor BlueRun Ventures held 12.5% as the second-largest stakeholder. Search engine provider Sougou Inc., a major challenger of Baidu, has also invested in the company and owned a 4.46% stake at the time.

ByteDance’s Jinri Toutiao content platform launched its own search business last year. Last month, its Wikipedia-style product Toutiao Baike went online as the company looked to move deeper into the online search business, challenging Baidu.

An industry expert speaking on condition of anonymity told Caixin the latest acquisition is likely set to fill out ToutiaoPedia’s medical content offerings, and ByteDance may leverage the website to expand beyond content and into online medical counseling services as the website includes a section for users to ask doctors medical questions.

Contact reporter Isabelle Li (liyi@caiixin.com) and editor Gavin Cross (gavincross@caixin.com)

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