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

Chinese media giant to buy karaoke app Musical.ly for US$800 million

The negotiations broke down over financial deal terms and "general skittishness" about selling to a company whose revenue numbers and user stats were hard to assess, per the report. It also has a sister app, Live.ly, for live-streaming video.

Musical.ly, Chinese-founded but popular around the world with teens posting videos of themselves to their favourite tunes, would merge with Bytedance in a deal worth US$800 million to US$1 billion, according to a person familiar with the plans.

Musical.ly, which launched in Shanghai in 2014 and opened USA offices in Santa Monica in 2016, was originally designed as a hub for 15-second goofy videos of users dancing and singing to snippets of popular tunes. 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's vision is to make entertainment more personal, participatory and interactive, by enabling anyone to be a content creator", explained Yang and Zhu in a joint statement.


"Meanwhile Bytedance also made another acquisition this week, to augment its flagship Toutiao service (officially called Jinri Toutiao - which means" Today's Headlines"): "It's buying News Republic, a global mobile news aggregation service based in Bordeaux, France, from Cheetah Mobile for $86.6 million. Hearst's "Seventeen" magazine has said it'll devise a slate of shows focused on fashion and beauty for Musical.ly.

Musical.ly and ByteDance could not be immediately reached for comment. Now all three are refining their own news apps to try and steal business from Toutiao.

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.

Started by Zhang Yiming (張一鳴), it is 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.

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