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Musical.ly Establishes $50 Million Creator Fund, Closes Deal With China’s Bytedance

Musical.ly, which makes a short-form video app popular among teens, announced that it is investing up to $50 million in a fund to support its users — or “Musers,” as it calls them.

Over the next two years, according to the company, the Musical.ly Creator Fund will be used to invest in a variety of programs, which may include college scholarships, a “creator marketplace,” and co-development deals with individual video creators and media partners on new formats.

The announcement comes as Bytedance, a Chinese internet media company, officially closed its acquisition of Musical.ly this week. Announced last month, Bytedance’s deal for Musical.ly is reportedly worth up to $1 billion.

With the deal, Musical.ly will continue to operate as an independent platform, headed by co-founders Louis Yang and Alex Zhu.

“Our vision is to inspire the world to create, and we’re excited to offer our users the ability to express their creativity, advance their talents, and even make a living on Musical.ly,” Zhu said in a statement. “From everyday creators to established influencers, our users make Musical.ly a dynamic and entertaining video community for millions of people around the world.”

The Musical.ly Creator Fund could go toward scholarships and educational grants for college students to pursue careers in the world of video storytelling and digital media; a marketplace to let creators exchange and sell creative assets (such as augmented-reality objects or original music), as well as instruct and participate in virtual workshops and collaborate with brands; and a “Co-Innovation Partner Program” under which Musical.ly would work with select media and content partners to develop new formats and technologies for mobile video storytelling.

According to the companies, the Bytedance acquisition will let Musical.ly tap into Bytedance’s huge user base in China, Japan, Korea, and elsewhere in Asia. Musical.ly also intends to incorporate technology from Bytedance’s Toutiao AI Lab, devoted to developing machine-learning algorithms for personalized content recommendations.

“We are impressed by the passion of the [Musical.ly] user community, whose creativity, humor, and expression of their interests through short videos has made Musical.ly a powerful and engaging platform,” said Yiming Zhang, founder and CEO of Bytedance.

Launched three years ago, Musical.ly has more than 215 million users for its lip-syncing and short-video app, skewing toward teen girls. It also has a sister app, Live.ly, for live-streaming video.

Musical.ly had raised $147 million from investors including GGV Capital, GX Capital, Qiming Venture Partners, Susquehanna International Group, and Cheetah Mobile.

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