ByteDance Establishes New AI Division To Accelerate Consumer Product Deployment

ByteDance has recently established a new AI division called Flow to accelerate its AI-based product deployment, according to Chinese media reports.

Flow has already launched two chat bots called "Dou Bao" and "Cici" and is incubating several other consumer-facing AI products. The new unit will be headed by Zhu Wenjia who is leading ByteDance’s generative AI team.

The move came as ByteDance has been adjusting various business units, including shrinking its virtual reality unit Pico and downsizing its gaming department. The specific organizational structure of the Flow unit has not been finalized, but the market is paying close attention to what products Flow will be releasing.

ByteDance’s investment in AI has been relatively low-key compared to other Chinese tech giants such as Baidu, which has launched its ChatGPT-equivalent products earlier this year.

The establishment of the Flow team indicates that ByteDance is shaping a holistic AI development framework, extending from foundational model layers to application layers. Given ByteDance’s track record in the mobile internet era of launching numerous viral apps, the industry is keenly observing how the company will leverage generative AI to create the next wave of popular consumer AI products.

ByteDance’s generative AI team was initially established in February and focused on languages and images. The language model team is led by ByteDance’s search department, with a team size of about a dozen people; the image model team is led by the intelligent creation team under the product development and engineering architecture department. The Flow team has been hiring people lately to expand.

ByteDance began internal testing of an AI chat bot named ‘Grace’ in June this year, which is the precursor to the later launched Dou Bao.

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