ByteDance: TikTok’s parent company to invest money in VR

ByteDance, the company that possesses TikTok, is getting serious about entering the virtual reality (VR) space, according to a report from Protocol.

A source close to the situation described to the outlet that the company plans on investing “tons of money” to conceive VR-related content.

It looks like a significant portion of ByteDance’s investment is going into hiring. As reported by Protocol, over 40 employment listings have popped up for Pico, and the Chinese VR headset maker ByteDance was acquired the previous year.

Most entrances are for Pico Studios’ west coast-based units in California and Washington, ranging from a head of VR game design to a game operation manager. Other open positions offer an increased focus on Pico’s VR hardware, including an optical engineer and a systems design electrical engineer.

The Protocol also indicates Pico’s head of consumer sales listing as a possible indicator that Pico is looking to establish a presence in the US. The job description states that candidates will be “responsible for the sales and marketing of Pico’s overall product in the US consumer market.”

Pico still has a lot of expansion, and ByteDance has the resources to give it the push it needs to contest the handful of mainstream headsets offered by Valve, Meta, HTC, and PlayStation in the US. The company’s flagship all-in-one headset, the Pico Neo 3 Link, launched in Europe in May and costs 449 (~ USD 472).

Its specs are similar to the 256GB Meta Quest 2, which costs $399. Both headsets have the exact storage, 1832 x 1920 resolution per eye, and Snapdragon XR2 chip.

The Neo 3 Link, however, comes with an additional headset strap (a $49 accessory sold separately for the Quest 2) and a DisplayPort connection instead of USB-C, allowing for improved image quality when hooking up the headset to your PC.

It looks like the Neo 3 Link is aiming to become that in-between option for people who don’t want to spend $999 on the Valve Index or $799 HTC Vive Pro 2 but are also looking for something that offers a little more out-of-the-box when compared to the Meta Quest 2.

ByteDance Ltd. is a Chinese multinational internet technology company headquartered in Beijing and legally domiciled in the Cayman Islands.

Launched by Zhang Yiming, Liang Rubo, and a team of others in 2012, ByteDance created the video-sharing social networking assistance and apps TikTok and Chinese-specific counterpart Douyin. The company is also the creator of the news and information platform Toutiao. ByteDance hosts 1.9 Bn monthly active users across all its content platforms.

ByteDance encloses public attention over allegations that it operated with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to censor and surveil content about Xinjiang internment camps and other topics deemed controversial by the CCP.

In 2009, entrepreneur and software engineer Zhang Yiming teamed with his friend Liang Rubo to co-found 99fang.com, a real estate search engine. In early 2012, the pair leased an apartment in Zhongguancun and, along with several other 99fang employees, started developing an app that would use big data algorithms to classify news according to users’ preferences, which would later evolve Toutiao. That March, Yiming, and Liang founded ByteDance.

In March 2012, ByteDance established its first app, called Neihan Duanzi. It permitted users to circulate jokes, memes, and funny videos. At its zenith in 2017, Neihan Duanzi had around 200 million users.

In August 2012, ByteDance pitched the first version of the news and content platform Toutiao, which would evolve its core product. Toutiao hit 1 Mn daily active users four months after its launch.

In March 2016, ByteDance launched its research arm, the ByteDance AI Lab. It is captained by Wei-Ying Ma, the ex-assistant managing director of Microsoft Research Asia. The lab’s research has concentrated on AI for an in-depth understanding of information (text, images, videos) and developing machine learning algorithms for personalized notification recommendations. The ByteDance AI Lab and Peking University co-created Xiaomingbot, an AI bot that wrote news articles.

From late 2016 till 2017, ByteDance made several acquisitions and new product launches. In December 2016, it was supported by the Indonesian news recommendation platform BABE. Two months later, in February 2017, it earned Flipagram, which was later united with Musical.ly into TikTok upon the latter’s accession in November 2017. Other notable investments include the UGC short video platform Hypstar (Vigo Video) in July 2017 and the News Republic from Cheetah Mobile in November 2017.

ByteDance sued Chinese technology news website Huxiu for defamation in December 2018, after Huxiu informed that ByteDance’s Indian-language news app Helo was breeding misinformation.

In March 2021, ByteDance was part of a group of Chinese companies that aspired to deploy technology to circumvent Apple’s privacy policies. The subsequent month, ByteDance announced that it had formed a new division, BytePlus, to distribute the underlying forum of TikTok so that others may launch similar apps.

In August 2021, ByteDance gained Pico, an Oculus-like virtual reality startup.