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Chinese firm to acquire lip-synching app Musical.ly for $1 billion

13 November 2017
Chinese firm to acquire lip-synching app Musical.ly for $1 billion

Beijing ByteDance Technology Co (北京字節跳動科技), the company behind giant Chinese media start-up Jinri Toutiao (日頭條), has acquired teen social video app Musical.ly for about US$800 million, people familiar with the deal said. Users can share, like and comment on the clips, which run between 15 seconds and a minute in length.

ByteDance announced the deal yesterday without citing a price tag.

Last year, it rolled out a live-streaming app called Live.ly. It also has become a popular site for "influencers", with several of the app's most popular users leveraging their large followings into music careers and branding deals. Musical.ly will continue to operate as a separate platform. "To achieve this, we need to constantly innovate to provide new and exciting video creation tools to our users, and we see AI as a critical factor in augmenting human creativity".

The start-up gains a big USA presence, adding Musical.ly's 100 million-strong contingent of lip-synching video performers to Toutiao's own 120 million readers and viewers, while potentially tacking on a social media component to its bread-and-butter news offering. 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.

Toutiao has become well known for its extensive use of artificial intelligence to help build a tailored newsfeed for its user base, and in an announcement today the companies said that this tech will be used to develop Musical.ly's reach in terms of users and creators in China, Korea, Japan, and Southeast Asia.

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.