When Google pulled out of China in 2010, it left local market leader Baidu a de facto monopoly in the lucrative internet search business. Now that franchise is facing its most ominous threat yet. ByteDance, an innovative Beijing start-up that created the hit short video-sharing app TikTok, is moving into search in a threat to the advertising business that has fuelled Baidu’s profit. ByteDance, known for aggressively recruiting top tech talent, is turning its attention to one of the most lucrative businesses online. “From 0 to 1, we are building a general search engine for a more ideal user experience,” according to the company’s post on the WeChat messaging service. Baidu declined to comment. TikTok owner ByteDance gathers 1 billion monthly active users across its apps ByteDance likely will not create a stand-alone search engine, a Baidu- or Google-like site users would go to from a personal computer or smartphone, because that is not how most people in China use search. Instead, ByteDance’s search will be embedded within its own apps, beginning with its Jinri Toutiao news service. That will allow users to quickly search for related news, information or products – and ByteDance will be able to profit from search and display advertising. The service will work with TikTok as well as ByteDance’s popular video-streaming platforms. Staffers already include recruits from Baidu, Google and Microsoft Corp’s Bing. Zhang Yiming , ByteDance’s founder, has begun to show the world his far-reaching ambition to create a global technology giant. After creating the popular Jinri Toutiao in China, he turned TikTok into a global hit, with fans from Beijing to Boston and Bangalore. The valuation of his seven-year-old start-up has surged to US$75 billion, more than any start-up in the world. ByteDance is now looking to expand with more apps and its own smartphone – one more reason a search service would be useful. Baidu, meanwhile, has struggled with encroachment from larger rivals Alibaba Group Holding and Tencent Holdings. New York-listed Alibaba is the parent company of the South China Morning Post . Robin Li Yanhong, Baidu’s founder and chief executive, has seen his fortunes slide as the market value of his company has tumbled. The search leader is now valued at US$39 billion, about half what it was two years earlier.