The Musical.ly founders are singing a happy tune as sources say the company has been sold for as much as $1 billion.
The company has been acquired by the Chinese news and information site Beijing Bytedance Technology Co., sources familiar with the matter told the Wall Street Journal. The Shanghai-based Musical.ly was founded in 2014 by Alex Zhu and Lulu Yang. It is an app popular with teens and tweens, used to lip-sync popular songs and mimic dances in video form. A user creates a video selfie singing a song then shares it with friends.
The company was reported to have been bought for between $800 million and $1 billion, which doubles the valuation the company received in a 2016 round of funding. In May of last year the company received a $100 million investment from GGV Capital and Qiming Venture Partners. There are over 60 million monthly users on Musical.ly.
The acquiring company, Bytedance, is most well-known for its personalized news app Toutiao in China. The deal to buy Musical.ly was made to try and foster coordinated content between the two platforms as well as expand growth overseas.
According to recent rumours of how the company is raising capital, Bytedance is valued at around $20 billion—a huge increase from the end of last year when the company was valued at around $11 billion. Investors in Bytedance include Sequoia Capital China and the Russian Billionaire yuri Milner, an investor with huge shares of Twitter and Facebook and who was also named in the recent Paradise Papers leaks.
Bytedance’s app Toutia has 120 million daily active users, with each user spending an average 74 minutes on the platform. It gains a lot of interest from investors due to the company’s ability to offer targeted advertising based on viewing history and interests.
The Musical.ly acquisition is expected to close at the end of November.