ByteDance gains traction among US tech workers

Linda J. Dodson

PALO ALTO, U.S. — Despite political headwinds, ByteDance is quickly gaining attention among tech talent in the U.S. as the Beijing-based giant pushes for global expansion while trying to distance itself from China.

Searches about ByteDance on Blind, a popular professional social network among tech workers, have jumped 10 times in May compared with January this year, the Nikkei Asian Review has learned.

After analyzing over 8,000,000 search queries and 100 million post views on Blind this year, the job network found ByteDance has beaten all U.S. big techs to top search volume growth on the platform. ByteDance — the parent of wildly popular short video app TikTok — is now the 9th most searched company on Blind in the first five months of 2020.

Blind was founded in South Korea and entered the U.S. in 2015. It is an anonymous forum for tech professionals where they can discuss job-related topics such as career development, compare salaries and seek referrals. It has expanded to over 1 million users across 2,000 different U.S. companies in less than two years.

“From my experience, every time a company was changing and hiring aggressively, it has trended on our platform,” said Kyum Kim, Blind’s co-founder and head of U.S. operations.

“About four or five years ago it was Airbnb, and then Uber was really popular, and Robin Hood was very, very popular last year, and now [it] is ByteDance… we see these kinds of trends over and over again,” said Kim.

There were nearly 13,000 searches about ByteDance on Blind in May, compared to only 1,309 queries in January.

Blind’s search trend study combined queries about TikTok and ByteDance as “the general public might not distinguish between the company and the brand name,” according to Kim.

ByteDance’s website currently shows 124 new job posts in the U.S., in addition to the 276 hiring posts on TikTok’s website for positions in the country spanning across Silicon Valley to Los Angeles and New York.

The Chinese company said it now has over 1,000 employees in the U.S., up from around 300 this time last year, according to a Reuters report

“We found ByteDance interesting because they’re trying to transform into a U.S. company… and they are hiring super aggressively,” said Kim.

The Chinese tech giant appointed longtime media executive Kevin Mayer as its chief operating officer and as the new CEO of TikTok in May, in a bid to ease the political pressure it’s facing over issues such as data privacy and censorship, Nikkei Asian Review previously reported.

Search keywords that trend on Blind show users are most interested in learning about ByteDance’s job offerings, its Singapore office and the company’s salaries and other compensation and benefits.

Blind’s study also found which companies’ employees are most interested in ByteDance, as the platform requires a valid work email address to sign up and users must have the current employer name in their profiles.

The result shows current Facebook employees are searching for ByteDance the most, followed by those working at Amazon, Google, and Uber.

The data is no indication for whether those workers have moved from their current employers to ByteDance, but “we believe the company is getting a lot of attention from tech talents,” said Kim.

Despite growing interest in ByteDance, Google, Amazon, and Facebook are the top three most searched companies on Blind in 2020, the study found.

Further, ByteDance has built a reputation for attracting talent in China with its horizontal corporate culture and hiring policy that is unusual in the Chinese tech sector, Nikkei Asian Review previously reported.

“ByteDance probably has more [employee] talent than anyone else in the internet sector,” said Liu Yuan, a managing director of venture capital fund ZhenFund in Beijing. “The company is very good at recruiting talent that has yet to build a track record.”

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