ByteDance Denies Major Changes to Health and Q&A Platforms

News emerged recently that the Xiaohe Health app owned by Beijing-based tech giant ByteDance will be shut down, and that related functions will be undertaken by a mini-program within Douyin, the Chinese mainland version of TikTok. Furthermore, the company’s Wukong Q&A app, which was shut down two years ago, will reportedly be launched again with a brand-new logo. However, ByteDance has denied both claims.

Compared with its fellow Chinese tech giants, ByteDance entered the medical field in a low-key manner in May 2020 through its acquisition of a professional medical science content platform, which became the predecessor of “Xiaohe Medical Code.”

In the second half of 2020, ByteDance acquired the online medical platform “1024” and established the Aurora Department responsible for the health business. After its establishment, the Xiaohe Health app was launched, which relied on Xiaohe Medical Code’s team to output a large number of patient stories, create a medical content community, then attract users to conduct online or offline consultations.

However, Xiaohe Health’s WeChat official account stopped updating as early as September 2022. A number of sources close to Xiaohe Health’s team said that since the platform started more than two years ago, online diagnosis and treatment, offline clinics, medical e-commerce and other businesses have not developed smoothly, and their future is unclear.

According to informed sources, the conversion rate from Douyin to Xiaohe Health is about 1/100,000. In addition, it failed to compete with rivals such as Ping An Good Doctor, Chunyu Doctor and Good Doctor in terms of the number and quality of doctors and user cognition. In addition, it has not obtained official permission to sell prescription drugs online, and the unit price of drugs that can be sold is low. It also has no distribution capacity, and cannot replicate the medical e-commerce model of JD Health and Alibaba Health.

As a Q&A community, Wukong was removed from digital shelves on February 3, 2021. Before this, ByteDance announced that it would invest 1 billion yuan ($148 million) to subsidize the respondents in 2017 and 2018 respectively. After being removed from the shelves, Wukong did not really disappear, but continued to operate on ByteDance’s Toutiao, a news and information content platform.

According to Tech Planet, Wukong will allow users to find answers intuitively through minimalist design and more search-based functional design. Product positioning will change from the original Q&A community to a simplified tool version of Zhihu, a popular Chinese web Q&A platform.

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Most domestic internet firms have participated in the Q&A field, such as Baidu, Sina, Sogou, Qihoo 360, Zhihu and so on. Among them, Baidu Knows and Zhihu have become leaders. With 900 million users and 180 million respondents, Baidu Knows has responded to 590 million questions.

In December of last year, Liang Rubo, CEO of ByteDance, mentioned at an all-staff company meeting that the growth rate of revenue slowed down. This means that the company needs to discover more business scenarios for commercialization in the future.