Science

China's ByteDance buys Musical.ly teen app for Dollars 800 mln

China's AI-powered content platform Bytedance Ltd said on Friday it would merge with lip-syncing app Musical.ly Inc.

Musical.ly, founded three years ago in Shanghai, is the first Chinese social media app to make it big in the US, where it has about 20 million users. Bytedance beat out rival bidders including Kuaishou, the viral video streaming service, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing a private matter. It said the transaction will give it an important USA presence, adding Musical.ly's 100 million lip-synching users to Toutiao's own 120 million readers and viewers, while potentially adding a social media component.

Musical.ly was founded in 2014, initially in Shanghai, by Alex Zhu and Yang Luyu and now claims 120 million users. In 2016 it added a live-streaming component, Live.ly. The startup also inked deals with media companies such as Viacom and Comcast's NBCUniversal to make original shows.

"Musical.ly's vision is to make entertainment more personal, participatory and interactive, by enabling anyone to be a content creator". Hearst's "Seventeen" magazine has said it'll devise a slate of shows focused on fashion and beauty for Musical.ly.

Bytedance, best known for its flagship news aggregator platform Toutiao, is one of China's hottest tech start-ups and was valued at over $20 billion in a funding round earlier this year, Reuters reported in August. The company was valued at $11 billion in June, according to CB Insights, and is now reportedly worth $20 billion. Started by Zhang Yiming, it's on track to pull in about US$2.5 billion in revenue this year, largely from advertising. Bytedance wants to become a global success by bringing its artificial intelligence tools to the rest of the world.

The Beijing-based firm, which recently bought video platform Flipagram and also owns English news app TopBuzz, declined to comment on its current valuation.



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