Bytedance, China’s giant digital-content aggregator, is set to acquire U.S.-based social video app Musical.ly, the companies confirmed on Friday in Asia.
ByteDance did not give financial details of the deal in a statement on Friday, but a report from the Wall Street Journal said the acquisition of Musical.ly, an app especially popular with teenagers that allows users to post videos of themselves accompanying their favorite songs, was valued at between US$800 million and US$1 billion.
“Musical.ly will continue to operate as an independent platform, integrating Bytedance’s global leading [artificial intelligence] technology and leveraging its reach in China and key markets across Asia to enhance Musical.ly’s offering to users, creators, and partners,” the companies said.
Musical.ly was founded in 2014 by Alex Zhu and Yang Luyu and now claims 120 million users. It began as a video-sharing service and has since become a platform for lip-syncing. In 2016, the app added a live-streaming component, Live.ly. It has struck deals with Viacom, NBCUniversal and Seventeen magazine to produce original content for younger audiences.
“Musical.ly’s vision is to make entertainment more personal, participatory and interactive, by enabling anyone to be a content creator,” said Zhu, co-CEO of Musical.ly. “We see AI as a critical factor in augmenting human creativity. Bytedance’s leading AI technologies and top-notch AI developers can empower us to innovate faster and roll out new user offerings unlike anything users have experienced before.”
Zhu added that Musical.ly has recently also been focused on expanding into Asian markets, and that the deal “will allow us to access Bytedance’s massive user base in China, Japan and Korea, and around Asia. This will enable us to provide a completely unique experience to our content creators, influencers, celebrities, and media partners on the platform.”