Musical.ly, a lip-syncing app popular with young people, has been sold to Chinese tech giant Bytedance in a deal worth up to $1bn (£750m).Shanghai-based Musical.ly, founded three years ago, claims over 60 million monthly active users.It’s the first Chinese social media app to make it big in North America and Europe.The move could help both firms expand their market reach and tap into each other’s technological capabilities.”(By) integrating Musical.ly’s global reach with Bytedance’s massive user base in China and key Asian markets, we are creating a significant global platform for our content creators and brands to engage with new markets,” said Zhang Yiming, Bytedance’s chief executive.’Musers’On Musical.ly, users – or “musers” as they’re called – can record and share 15-second videos of themselves lip syncing to popular songs and making funny faces. When editing, “musers” can change the speed of videos, add filters and play videos backwards.Earlier this year, Musicaly.ly struck deals with Viacom, NBCUniversal and Hearst Magazine to produce original content aimed at younger audiences.The company also has a live-streaming platform called Live.ly.
Bytedance, meanwhile, is best known for its mobile app called Jinri Toutiao, or “Today’s Headlines,” which aggregates news and videos from hundreds of media outlets.The app has become one of the world’s most popular news services and boasts 120 million daily active users.It’s helped Bytedance to become one of China’s hottest tech start-ups, with valuations reaching as high as $20 billion.”For Musical.ly, it is a good price. For Toutiao, it is a big step for its globalisation strategy,” says Yu Xue, an analyst at China-based market intelligence firm IDC. “The short video market is incredibly hot in China this year,” she added.The deal is one of several concluded by Bytedata lately as it looks to expand its global presence.Earlier this week, the firm paid $87m for News Republic, a news aggregation service owned by New York-listed Cheetah Mobile.In November 2016, Bytedance signed a licensing deal with Studio71, a multichannel network owned by German media group ProSiebenSat.1. Under the deal, Studio71’s content will be subtitled in Chinese and carried on Bytedance’s Top Buzz platform.