China's Bytedance to buy lip-sync app Musical.ly

HONG KONG • Chinese online content platform Bytedance said yesterday it would buy popular lip-sync platform Musical.ly, in a deal seen valued at up to US$1 billion (S$1.36 billion) that underlines the global ambitions of the fast-growing tech start-up.

Musical.ly, Chinese-founded but popular around the world with teens posting videos of themselves to their favourite tunes, would merge with Bytedance in a deal worth US$800 million to US$1 billion, according to a person familiar with the plans.

The firms did not disclose financial details of the deal.

Bytedance, best known for its flagship news aggregator platform Toutiao, is one of China's hottest tech start-ups and was valued at over US$20 billion in a funding round earlier this year, Reuters reported in August.

The deal could help Toutiao - which has over 120 million daily active mostly in China - push into more overseas markets where Musical.ly has a bigger presence.

"(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," Bytedance chief executive Zhang Yiming said in a statement.

Musical.ly, which would continue to operate as an independent platform, would be able to integrate Bytedance's sophisticated artificial intelligence technology.

The lip-sync platform's co-founders Louis Yang and Alex Zhu and their global team will join Bytedance and will continue to run the Musical.ly platform, the firm said.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 11, 2017, with the headline 'China's Bytedance to buy lip-sync app Musical.ly'. Print Edition | Subscribe