Musical.ly app reportedly acquired by ByteDance

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

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Beijing ByteDance Technology has bought teen social video app Musical.ly for around Dollars 800 million, Bloomberg reported, citing sources familiar with the deal.

ByteDance announced the deal yesterday without citing a price tag. Musical.ly has risen to prominence among a teenage and tween audience by enabling users to record quick videos set to music. It's also 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: over the past 15 months, for instance, Baby Ariel signed with CAA; Jacob Sartorius with UTA; and, most recently, sisters Lisa and Lena with WME. Bytedance beat out rival bidders including Kuaishou, the viral video streaming service, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing a private matter.

As its popularity has grown, Musical.ly has launched scores of homegrown talent and attracted the support of recording labels and stars such as Selena Gomez and Katy Perry. A separate live-streaming app, Live.ly, has made deals with USA broadcasters Viacom and NBC Universal to produce original programming.

ByteDance's Toutiao app uses AI to analyse readers' habits and send them customised content.

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The companies did not disclose terms of the acquisition, but Bloomberg reported Friday that it's valued between $800 million and $1 billion. The app's cofounders, Alex Zhu and Louis Yang, will join Bytedance and will continue running Musical.ly as an independent platform.

Teens are the targeted user base for Musical.ly, which has had some cases of inappropriate content sent to young users.

Toutiao aggregates news and videos from hundreds of media outlets and has become one of the world's largest news services in the span of five years. Toutiao bought the US company Flipagram in February. It added to the push this week by acquiring aggregation platform News Republic from Cheetah Mobile Inc, which is also an investor in Musical.ly, for US$86.6 million.

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