At the same time, Zhang thought that Chinese smartphone users were struggling to find information in mobile apps available in 2012 and the search giant Baidu was mixing search results with undisclosed advertising.
With his vision and the funding, Zhang launched the Toutiao news app in August 2012 and within two years, attracted more than 13 million daily users.
As part of its interest in becoming a worldwide news platform and using the same AI to improve usability, Zhang also launched TopBuzz, a content discovery platform for videos, articles, breaking news and GIFs outside of China — in United States, Brazil and Japan.
Towards the end of 2016, Zhang invested in India’s largest vernacular (mother tongues such as Tamil, Hindi, Punjabi, etc) based content aggregation platform Dailyhunt as well as in Indonesian news recommendation platform BABE without the users subscribing to the individual news sites.
With Toutiao as China’s largest AI–powered information network, the acquisition of News Republic helped broadened its reach into more overseas markets and provide users with more diverse and relevant content.