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ByteDance Ramps Up AI Efforts: Flow Department Poaches Top Talent from Baidu and Alibaba

ByteDance, the Chinese tech giant, is making significant strides in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), with its Flow department taking center stage. This newly established department, formed in November 2023, is dedicated to researching and developing applications powered by large AI language models.

The Flow department's recent launch of the AI character interaction app "Hua Lu" has garnered significant attention for its innovative approach to AI-driven social interaction. This app represents just one facet of Flow's multifaceted operations. According to exclusive information obtained by Sina Technology, Flow encompasses four major business areas: AI education, globalization efforts, online communities, and Doubao, an AI question-and-answer assistant.

ByteDance CEO Liang Rubo acknowledged at the company's annual all-staff meeting in January 2024 that ByteDance entered the large language model (LLM) game later than some competitors. While acknowledging that leading LLM startups were founded between 2018 and 2021, Liang emphasized ByteDance's 2024 motto: "always start a business and escape the gravity of mediocrity." This focus on continuous innovation has fueled ByteDance's push into AI.

The Flow department's rapid growth reflects this commitment. Established just last year, the department already boasts over 100 employees. They have actively recruited talent through various channels, including social media and university recruitment programs. Notably, a significant portion of these new hires come from Baidu's Wen Xin Yiyan project and Alibaba Cloud, indicating ByteDance's aggressive efforts to attract top AI talent.

However, this rapid expansion comes at a cost. A ByteDance employee revealed that the Flow department operates with a demanding work schedule, with six-day workweeks and occasional Sunday overtime being the norm.

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