Published: Sat, November 11, 2017
Markets | By Rosalie Gross

Popular teen app Musical.ly sells for reported $800 mil

Popular teen app Musical.ly sells for reported $800 mil

Bytedance, a leading AI-powered content platform, is buying the video-based social network in a deal reportedly valued at $800 million.

The acquirement signifies the major project overseas thus far for a Chinese startup priced at $20 billion that is, by now, generated one of the world's most significant news services.

Digital lip-syncing aimed at teens is officially a big, big business: Chinese tech company Bytedance has announced it plans to "merge" with - acquire - Musical.ly, a popular lip-synching app launched in China in 2013. Also this week, Bytedance entered into a pact with Chinese mobile-app developer Cheetah Mobile to provide $50 million in funding to Live.me, a top live-streaming app majority-owned by Cheetah, which has a community of about 30 million users. It also has a sister app, Live.ly, for live-streaming video. The company's flagship product, Toutiao, is the largest AI-powered content platform in China, with over 120 million daily active users each spending an average of 74 minutes on the platform.

Toutiao's purchase of Flipagram, Musical.ly's primary rival in the self-shot-video-accompanied-by-music market, gives Bytedance dominance in soundtracks to personal videos.

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Musical.ly, founded in Shanghai by Louis Yang (楊陸育) and Alex Zhu (朱駿) in 2014, exploded in popularity among U.S. teens previous year and has since expanded beyond its flagship app for creating and sharing personal music videos.

"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", expressed Yiming Zhang, founder and CEO of Bytedance. The company's co-founders, Alex Zhu and Louis Yang, are joining Bytedance and will continue to run Musical.ly. The company recently bought aggregation platform News Republic from Cheetah Mobile, which is also an investor in Musical.ly, for United States dollars 86.6 million.

ByteDance is the company behind Chinese media startup Jinri Toutiao.

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