Musical.ly Acquired By Chinese Media Giant

Chloe Brett November 10, 2017
Musical.ly Acquired By Chinese Media Giant

Buzzy teen social video app Musical.ly has been acquired by Beijing ByteDance Technology Co. for about $800 million.

The Chinese online content platform said on Friday it would buy the popular lip-sync platform in a deal seen valued at up to $1 billion that underlines the global ambitions of the fast-growing tech startup. The firms did not disclose financial details of the deal.

The acquisition represents the biggest venture abroad, thus far, for a Chinese startup valued at $20 billion that’s already spawned one of the world’s largest news services. Bytedance beat out rival bidders, including Kuaishou, the viral video streaming service, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing a private matter.

"(By) integrating Musical.ly's global reach with Bytedance's massive user base in China and key Asian markets, we are creating a significant global platform for our content creators and brands to engage with new markets," Zhang Yiming, Bytedance chief executive, said in a statement.

Musical.ly, which would continue to operate as an independent platform, would be able to integrate Bytedance's sophisticated artificial intelligence technology.

The lip-sync platform's co-founders Louis Yang and Alex Zhu and their global team will join Bytedance and will continue to run the Musical.ly platform, the firm said.

In 2016, it rolled out a live-streaming app called Live.ly. The startup’s struck deals with media firms including Viacom Inc. and Comcast Corp.’s NBCUniversal to make original shows. It’s also looking to make interactive content for a younger audience. Hearst’s “Seventeen” magazine has said it’ll plan a slate of shows focused on fashion and beauty for Musical.ly.

Jinri Toutiao or “Today’s Headlines” is one of the few Chinese internet operations to have found success without the backing of one of the country’s three biggest industry players: Tencent Holdings Ltd., Baidu Inc. and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Now all three are refining their own news apps to try and steal business from Toutiao.

Toutiao aggregates news and videos from hundreds of media outlets and has become one of the world’s largest news services in the span of five years. Started by Zhang Yiming, it’s on track to pull in about $2.5 billion in revenue this year, largely from advertising.


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Chloe Brett
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