Chinese Media Startup Toutiao to Purchase Musical.ly for $800M-$1B

Musically app Musically app acquired

Beijing based ByteDance Technology Co., the company supporting massive Chinese media start-up Jinri Toutiao, has purchased teen social video app Musical.ly for about $800 million, according to people recognizable with the deal.

Bytedance, a company valued at $20 billion and which produces the Toutiao news aggregation app, announced the news on Friday morning but did not announce the financial terms, according to Bloomberg.

Musical.ly, which lets users take videos of themselves lip-synching to songs, launched in 2014. Users can share, like and comment on the clips, which run between 15 seconds and a minute in length.

Musical.ly, founded in Shanghai by Louis Yang and Alex Zhu in 2014, became very popular among United States teens in 2016 and has since expanded beyond its flagship app for creating and sharing personal music videos.

Toutiao's purchase of Flipagram, Musical.ly's primary rival in the self-shot-video-accompanied-by-music market, gives Bytedance dominance in soundtracks to personal videos. Bytedance previous year formed an R&D division, called the Toutiao AI Lab, headed by Ma Wei-Ying, formerly Microsoft Research Asia's assistant managing director.

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For now, users shouldn't expect any huge changes for Musical.ly.

Additionally, Musical.ly will work with Bytedance to develop its presence in new markets including China, Japan, Korea and Southeast Asia, where Bytedance already has a strong footprint.

Musical.ly's investors include Silicon Valley firms GGV Capital and Greylock Partners.

Bytedance is also known for their mobile app called, Jinri Toutiao, meaning "Today's Headlines" that releases news and videos from hudreds of media outlets.

News Republic, according to Bytedance's Zhang, will give the company "access to high-quality content from thousands of high-profile media partners around the world, making an exciting step forward in our worldwide expansion strategy". 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.

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