ByteDance Inc. just kicked off a wave of hiring it envisions hitting 40,000 new jobs in 2020, hoping to match Alibaba’s payroll at a time technology corporations across the globe are furloughing or reducing staff.

The world’s largest startup is recruiting people for 10,000 open positions, of which about a third are high-level research or software coding jobs, according to an internal website provided to staff for referrals and shared with Bloomberg. Representatives with ByteDance didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

ByteDance has been ramping up in gaming, live streaming and more as it moves further into territory dominated by competitors. (Picture: Dado Ruvic/Reuters)

New hires around the globe will support its universe of apps from video platform TikTok to news aggregator Toutiao, while strengthening its operations in new arenas such as e-commerce and gaming. It’s the first salvo of ByteDance’s goal to reach 100,000 staff globally by the end of the year, outlined by Chief Executive Officer Zhang Yiming in an internal memo last month. Once complete, the company will boast roughly the same number of employees as tech giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

ByteDance is seeking to consolidate its social media strongholds in China and the U.S. while spurring expansions in new markets. Its hiring spree contrasts with other startups, including SoftBank-backed Oyo Hotels & Homes, Zume Pizza Inc. and Brandless Inc., that have been cutting jobs or shutting down altogether.

Like rival Tencent Holdings Ltd, ByteDance’s social media channels have seen usage spike after the Covid-19 pandemic confined millions of people to their homes. Now, as life in China begins to return to normal, the employee referral program is looking to find candidates for some 9,900 positions, according to the website viewed by Bloomberg. Just over 1,100 of those openings were for interns as of midday Tuesday.

The job listings offer a rare window into how the eight-year-old internet giant is investing in future growth. For example, it’s seeking dozens of online tutors to capture China’s online education boom during the virus outbreak, while acquiring talent for music licensing in places from Miami to Mumbai. The Chinese app factory is also orchestrating forays into gaming, live-streaming commerce and even enterprise software, taking on deeper-pocketed rivals like Tencent and Alibaba.

Overall, ByteDance is hiring some 3,000 coding, engineering and research staff, and about as many people for products and operations, according to calculations by Bloomberg. Beyond China, it’s looking to boost headcount by adding more than 100 posts per location in London, Los Angeles, Mountain View and Singapore.

ByteDance, last valued at $75 billion according to CB Insights, is one of China’s most ambitious tech outfits. It has more than 1.5 billion monthly active users across its portfolio of products from Toutiao to mini-video platform Douyin, TikTok’s Chinese twin app.