Published: Fri, November 10, 2017
Finance | By Loren Pratt

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

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

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

The acquisition represents the biggest venture overseas thus far for a Chinese start-up valued at US$20 billion that has already spawned one of the world's largest news services.

Financial details weren't disclosed but Bloomberg estimates $800M while The Wall Street Journal has the potential price as high as $1B.

Musical.ly users can create their own music videos and add special effects and then share them with others publicly or privately over the app's social network.

The start-up gains a big U.S. presence, adding Musical.ly's 100 million-strong contingent of lip-synching video performers to Toutiao's own 120 million readers and viewers, while potentially tacking on a social media component to its bread-and-butter news offering.


ByteDance is considered one of China's hottest startups and is notable for keeping its independence from the three big tech conglomerates in the market, Tencent, Baidu and Alibaba.

Musical.ly, which launched in Shanghai in 2014 and opened US offices in Santa Monica in 2016, was originally designed as a hub for 15-second goofy videos of users dancing and singing to snippets of popular tunes.

A karaoke-style smartphone app that lets you create your own short music videos, Musical.ly boasts an audience of 200 million users globally.

Its parent company was valued at more than US$20 billion, a person familiar with the matter said, on par with Elon Musk's SpaceX. Started by Zhang Yiming, Toutiao is on track to make about Dollars 2.5 billion in revenue this year, largely from advertising.

The Musical.ly purchase is Bytedance's biggest foreign venture yet. Aside from holding stakes in Dailyhunt and BABE in Indonesia, Toutiao acquired Flipagram, a popular video app in the USA, this February.

Like this: