×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

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

  • Peter Bjorn and John -Björn Yttling

    As Peter Björn & John Celebrates 20 Years, the Band Returns to its 'Darker' Roots

    A trifecta of pure energy hit the stage at the Teragram Ballroom in Downtown Los Angeles Saturday night as Peter Björn & John performed the second-to-last stop of a 2018 tour. Promoting their new album “Darker Days,” which dropped October 19, the band went back to basics as a three-piece for this outing (drummer John [...]

  • Adam Levine Cardi B

    Maroon 5 and How the Super Bowl Halftime Show Became Music's Least Wanted Gig

    Who would have thought that the Super Bowl Halftime show, an American institution watched by more than 100 million people, would become the least wanted gig in music? But thanks to the ongoing controversy concerning the NFL’s stance on a player’s right to protest, brought to the forefront by football’s top conscientious objector Colin Kaepernick, [...]

  • Mary Poppins 1964

    P.L. Travers' Efforts to Adapt 'Mary Poppins' for Film, TV Were Often Less Than Jolly

    Disney’s “Mary Poppins Returns,” a sequel decades in the making, opens Dec. 19. Even before the 1964 original, Hollywood made several attempts to adapt P.L. Travers’ books, with Samuel Goldwyn and Katharine Hepburn among those involved in the chase. But aside from a one-hour 1949 CBS television version, they all hit a dead-end. The first [...]

  • Stevie Nicks Fleetwood Mac in concert

    Hall of Famer Stevie Nicks Thanks Jimmy Iovine for Talking Her Into Solo Career

    Stevie Nicks had a monumental Thursday, starting the day by being elected to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame as a solo artist and ending it onstage with Fleetwood Mac playing before a sold-out audience for the second of three nights at the Forum. During the show, Nicks addressed her big news that day, [...]

  • Kanye West

    Kanye West Accuses Drake of 'Threatening' His Family in Epic Twitter Binge

    Kanye West re-ignited his feud with Drake on Thursday night, accusing the rapper of “threatening” his family in a dozens-long Twitter binge on Thursday night. The latest installment of the saga between the former friends — which flared up most dramatically back in May when Pusha T revealed that Drake has a son with model [...]

  • Kacey Musgraves Cardi B Janelle Monae

    The Best Albums of 2018

    Even by recent standards, these are times that try human souls. And not surprisingly, that was reflected in the music of 2018: Whether metaphorically responding to the political realities of America (“Black Panther), mimicking the ADD nature of modern culture (Terra Whack) or simply providing a distraction, however brief, from too much reality (take your [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content