×

China’s Bytedance Buying Social-Video App Musical.ly

Bytedance, China’s giant digital-content aggregator, is set to acquire U.S.-based social video app Musical.ly, the companies confirmed on Friday in Asia.

Bytedance described the deal as a “merger” and offered no details of the transaction. Financial news agency Bloomberg reported it as being priced at about $800 million, while the Wall Street Journal put the price at as much as $1 billion. Those figures compare with a reported $20 billion valuation for Bytedance.

Musical.ly will continue to operate as an independent platform, integrating Bytedance’s global leading [artificial intelligence] technology and leveraging its reach in China and key markets across Asia to enhance Musical.ly’s offering to users, creators, and partners,” the companies said.

Musical.ly was founded in 2014, initially based in Shanghai, by Alex Zhu and Yang Luyu and now claims 120 million users. It began as a video-sharing service and has become a platform for lip-syncing. In 2016, it added a live-streaming component, Live.ly. It has struck deals with Viacom, NBCUniversal and Hearst’s Seventeen magazine to produce original content for younger audiences.

“Musical.ly’s vision is to make entertainment more personal, participatory and interactive, by enabling anyone to be a content creator,” said Zhu, co-CEO of Musical.ly. “We see AI as a critical factor in augmenting human creativity. Bytedance’s leading AI technologies and top-notch AI developers can empower us to innovate faster and roll out new user offerings unlike anything users have experienced before.”

Zhu added that Musical.ly has recently also been focused on expanding into Asian markets, and that the deal “will allow us to access Bytedance’s massive user base in China, Japan and Korea, and around Asia. This will enable us to provide a completely unique experience to our content creators, influencers, celebrities, and media partners on the platform.”

Bytedance has similar U.S.-Chinese roots. Founded in 2012, and now with backing from Silicon Valley investors that include Sequoia Capital and Digital Sky Technology, Bytedance has scored strongly as a news aggregator.

The company’s flagship product, Toutiao, is the largest AI-powered content platform in China, with more than 120 million daily active users, spending an average of 74 minutes on the platform. Bytedance’s AI technology has global application and the company offers a range of products across global markets, including Flipagram, Topbuzz and Tik Tok. It has operations in China, New York and Los Angeles.

Bytedance has revenues of about $2.5 billion, largely from advertising, and is reported to be be one of the world’s largest “unicorns,” start-up ventures worth $1 billion or more.

Earlier this week, Bytedance announced a strategic cooperation deal with NYSE-listed Cheetah Mobile. As part of that agreement, Bytedance is to pay $87 million for Cheetah Mobile’s news aggregation service, News Republic.

Late last year, Bytedance signed a licensing deal with Studio71, a multichannel network owned by Germany’s giant media group ProSiebenSat.1. Studio71’s content will be subtitled in Chinese and carried on Bytedance’s Top Buzz platform.

More Music

  • Warner Chappell Names Shani Gonzales Head of

    Warner Chappell Names Shani Gonzales Head of International, Executive VP of A&R

    Warner Chappell Music today announced the appointment of Shani Gonzales as Head of International, Executive Vice President of U.S., A&R. Based in New York, she will report to the company’s co-chair & CEO Guy Moot. Gonzales was most recently co-head of A&R at BMG U.S. and U.K., following stints at Epic Records and Def Jam. She [...]

  • KeshaSaks x Stonewall Inn collection launch

    Kesha Releases Trailer for ‘Debaucherous Joy’-Filled New Album ‘High Road’

    Kesha is more glittery than ever in the trailer for her new studio album, “High Road.” The eclectic clip, released Monday, heralds the coming of Kesha’s first album since 2017’s “Rainbow.” Amidst vintage clips of the American landscape and snippets of new songs, Kesha explains what to expect during a sit-down interview. “I’ve seen the [...]

  • Brandi Carlile at the 61st Annual

    Brandi Carlile Pulls Out of Fortune Women's Summit Over Kirstjen Nielsen Appearance

    Singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile has pulled out of the Fortune Most Powerful Woman Summit that begins today in Washington, D.C. She follows Hillary Clinton and “Surviving R. Kelly” executive producer Dream Hampton in exiting the summit over the inclusion of Kirstjen Nielsen, President Trump’s former homeland security secretary, who shared responsibility for implementing his family separation [...]

  • Sony/ATV Names Dana Baxter Senior VP

    Sony/ATV Music Publishing Names Dana Baxter Senior VP of Corporate Communications

    Sony/ATV Music Publishing today announced the appointment of Dana Baxter as Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications, effective November 1.  According to the announcement, in this role, she will lead all global communications strategies to further advance Sony/ATV’s evolution and mission of putting songwriters first.  She will report to Jon Platt, Chairman and CEO of Sony/ATV and will [...]

  • Young Dolph Key Glock

    How Rappers Young Dolph and Key Glock Turned Street Smarts Into Business Savvy

    Young Dolph and Key Glock are taking their “Dum and Dummer” act on the road, announcing their highly anticipated No Rules Tour, which kicks off Feb. 5, 2020 at Seattle’s ShowBox and hits a total of 33 dates. The rappers are booked by APA. Anyone who’s followed Dolph’s trajectory knows he’s all about getting his [...]

  • Coldplay

    Coldplay to Drop Double Album, ‘Everyday Life,’ Next Month

    After a teaser campaign that took place over the past few days, Coldplay confirmed in social media posts this morning that they will release a new double album called “Everyday Life” on Nov. 22. LOVE this type of real, old-fashioned post! Thanks @coldplay, new album due out 22 November! 🎉👏💕 #EverydayLife #Music pic.twitter.com/JDZeJQQzNM — Dan [...]

  • JOHNNY CASH, with BOB DYLAN, c.

    Bob Dylan Releases Archival ‘Wanted Man’ Video, Featuring Johnny Cash (Watch)

    “Travelin’ Thru, 1967- 1969,” an album collecting Bob Dylan’s country-leaning recordings from the era, many of which feature Johnny Cash, is out on Nov. 1, and the album was previewed today with the release of a song from it, a rough version of “Wanted Man.” The pair are obviously still working on the song — [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content