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Chinese Startup Bytedance Acquires Musical.ly for $800 Million

Chinese Startup Bytedance Acquires Musical.ly for $800 Million

Digital lip-syncing aimed at teens is officially a big, big business: Chinese tech company Bytedance has announced it plans to "merge" with - acquire - Musical.ly, a popular lip-synching app launched in China in 2013.

Toutiao's users are primarily based in China, so the move is seen as a way to tap into other markets. Founded three years ago, this social media app is popular with young people and generates over 60 million monthly active users, reaching to other countries such as the US and Europe as well.

Beijing ByteDance Technology, the operator of China's dominant news aggregator Toutiao, has bought social video app Musical.ly, its second acquisition in a week as it aggressively seeks new users by widening its range of content offerings.

The Musical.ly and Live.me deals will give Bytedance, which has more than 4,000 employees, an expanding portfolio to push further into mobile video, including in the growing live-streaming space. In February it bought U.S. video creation app Flipagram. The Musical.ly founders and team will join Bytedance and continue to run the platform. The lab's mission is to develop machine-learning algorithms for personalized content recommendations. "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".




Earlier this week ByteDance acquired news and video aggregation platform News Republic from China's Cheetah Mobile - itself an early investor in Musical.ly - for US$86.6 million.

Jinri Toutiao - or "Today's Headlines" - is one of the few Chinese internet operations to have found success without the backing of one of the country's three biggest industry players: Tencent Holdings Ltd, Baidu Inc and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

Here's another interesting tidbit: Last year, Bytedance engaged in talks to buy Reddit, the popular discussion site majority-owned by Advance Publications, according to a report by the Information. The details of the deal haven't been disclosed but sources told the Wall Street Journal that the app sold for somewhere between $800 million and $1 billion.