Published: Sat, November 11, 2017
Economy | By Shawn Conner

China's Toutiao buys teens social video app Musical.ly in latest expansion

China's Toutiao buys teens social video app Musical.ly in latest expansion

ByteDance announced the deal yesterday without citing a price tag.

ByteDance did not give financial details of the deal in a statement on Friday, but Chinese media reports said the acquisition of Musical.ly, an app especially popular with teenagers that allows users to post videos of themselves accompanying their favourite songs, was valued at between US$800 million and US$1 billion.

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Musical.ly, founded in Shanghai by Louis Yang and Alex Zhu in 2014, became very popular among U.S. teens in 2016 and has since expanded beyond its flagship app for creating and sharing personal music videos. Bytedance is already a household name in China, where its Toutiao information and content-recommendation service garners north of 120 million daily active users in the country - and is on track to generate about $2.5 billion in revenue this year.

Toutiao's users are primarily based in China, so the move is seen as a way to tap into other markets. 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.

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Musical.ly is a Chinese video social network application for video creation, messaging, and live broadcasting. Bytedance beat out rival bidders including Kuaishou, the viral video streaming service, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing a private matter.

Musical.ly lets users lip-sync along to short music clips or sing and dance a capella and upload it to the site. The lab's mission is to develop machine-learning algorithms for personalized content recommendations.

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ByteDance is considered one of China's hottest startups and is notable for keeping its independence from the three big tech conglomerates in the market, Tencent, Baidu and Alibaba. The app's cofounders, Alex Zhu and Louis Yang, will join Bytedance and will continue running Musical.ly as an independent platform. It'll continue to run as a separate platform, Bytedance said.

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