TikTok-owner Bytedance on May 15 fully acquired online medical encyclopedia and healthcare service platform Baike Mingyi, following tech giants such as Alibaba, Tencent, and JD into the country’s online healthcare market, according to a Chinese media report.
Following the acquisition, the legal representative of Baike Mingyi has been changed to Bytedance’s executive Yan Shou. Yan leads Bytedance’s fledgling gaming business and the company’s strategic investments.
Founded in 2010, Baike Mingyi is one of the earliest and most authoritative online medical encyclopedias in China. It is also the only designated website of the medical information program of China’s National Health Commission. Prior to being acquired by Bytedance, Baike Mingyi raised more than 100 million yuan in four rounds of funding.
Bytedance has been actively laying the groundwork for future ventures in online healthcare in recent years. In 2018, the company invested 15 million yuan to incentivize content creators specializing in medical information on its content aggregator app Jinri Toutiao. The following year, Bytedance continued adding columns and short video programs featuring medical professionals to Jinri Toutiao.
According to an annual report from Jinri Toutiao, the platform accumulated 54 billion views on health-related articles in 2019. It’s “Incredible Hospital” program also collaborated with 104 hospitals and 1,400 doctors during the year.
Bytedance also appears to be testing a paid medical consulting service on Jinri Toutiao. However, the service currently only allows text chat and is provided by online medical information and service platform Dingxiang Doctor.
Compared to other Chinese tech giants, Bytedance is a latecomer to the online healthcare landscape. Search engine company Baidu, for instance, started developing online healthcare platforms in 2010 and invested 1.44 billion yuan in a medical hardware company in 2019. Tencent also made more than 41 investments in healthcare as of 2019, with its online medical encyclopedia, Tencent Medpedia, currently collaborating with WebMD. Alibaba is possibly the most invested among all companies. Its healthcare unit AliHealth currently has a market cap of more than HK$260 billion.