Triller owner gets a new CEO with acquisition of Amplify.AI; also acquires live streaming service FITE TV

Would be TikTok competitor Triller, operated by parent company TrillerNet, is gaining a new CEO, the company announced today. The short-form video app said it’s acquiring an A.I.-based customer engagement platform, Amplify.AI, whose co-founder Mahi de Silva will now become TrillerNet’s CEO. Existing CEO Mike Lu will transition to President of TrillerNet and will focus on investor relations. The company separately announced the acquisition of FITE TV, a live event and pay-per-view combat sports streaming platform.

New CEO Mahi de Silva had been closely involved with Triller before today. The company’s press release today says he’s been serving as non-executive chairman since 2016, but his LinkedIn notes the year was 2019 (which would be following Triller’s 2019 funding by Proxima Media, when the press release at the time noted he was assuming the role of “chairman.”)  These are both wrong, the company discovered when we reached out for clarity. The correct year is 2018.

Ahead of the acquisition, de Silva had been serving as CEO and co-founder to Amplify.AI since 2017, and before that was CEO of Opera Mediaworks, the marketing and advertising arm of Opera Software, and co-founder and CEO of Botworx.

Amplify.AI, which works with brands in CPG, financial services, automotive, telecom, politics, and digital media, among others, will continue to operate as a subsidiary of TrillerNet following the deal. Other team members include former RSA and Verisign executive Ram Moskowitz who helped design and develop the digital certificates for SSL and code signing; and Amplify.ai co-founder and CTO Manoj Malhotra, a pioneer in B2C SMS messaging, the company notes.

TrillerNet also today announced it’s acquiring another strategic property to help shift its business further into the direction of live events: FITE TV. This deal gives Triller more of a foothold in the live events and pay-per-view streaming market, it says. As a result, FITE, which touts 10 million users, will become the exclusive digital distributor of all Triller Fight Club boxing events going forward.

“Acquiring FITE is part of the larger Triller strategy to bring together content, creators and commerce for the first time and the only place where they truly interact,” said Triller’s Ryan Kavanaugh, the former head of movie studio Relativity Media (and controversial figure) whose Proxima Media became Triller’s majority investor in 2019. “We have invested hundreds of millions of dollars and believe we have created a better more efficient e-commerce content platform,” he added.

The acquisition follows several others TrillerNet has made to expand into live events, now that becoming a TikTok replacement in the U.S. is no longer a viable option, as the Trump ban was put on hold by the Biden administration. Triller also in March acquired live music streaming platform Verzuz, founded by Swizz Beats and Timbaland. And it operates Triller Flight Club in partnership with Snoop Dogg, as well as a streaming platform Triller TV.

While specific deal terms were not revealed, Triller told TechCrunch it’s spent $250 million in the aggregate on its acquisitions, including Halogen, Mashtraxx, Verzuz, FITE and Amplify today.

#amplify, #apps, #biden-administration, #ceo, #chairman, #co-founder, #computing, #digital-media, #executive, #financial-services, #fundings-exits, #internet-culture, #mike-lu, #opera-mediaworks, #opera-software, #president, #sms, #snoop, #software, #ssl, #tiktok, #triller, #trump, #united-states, #verisign, #video-hosting

0

Jake Paul looks to knock out the venture capital world with Anti Fund

During every economic boom, there are startup investors who appear on the scene from new corners. Some churn out; others earn the respect of the old guard over time.

Jake Paul would be happy to be in the latter camp. Then again, the 24-year-old didn’t become a social media star by being conventional. Little wonder that Paul is now jumping into venture capital with an outfit that’s branded the Anti Fund. Newly formed with serial entrepreneur Geoffrey Woo, the endeavor is traditional in some ways but has a decidedly different point of view, say the two.

Some of the basics: Anti Fund is not a discrete pool of capital but is instead using AngelList’s Rolling Funds platform, which enables investors to raise money through a quarterly subscription from interested backers. Among those who’ve already committed capital are Marc Andreessen and Chris Dixon of Andreessen Horowitz.

Why choose a rolling fund instead of a traditional fund? For one thing, Paul and Woo were drawn to its Rule 506(c) structure, which enables issuers to broadly solicit and generally advertise an offering. Because Anti Fund plans to focus largely on consumer-focused brands and next-generation creator platforms in particular, “we want to be able to promote and advertise our fund,” says Woo, who most recently founded a nutrition-based food and beverage company and earlier in his career sold a company to Groupon.

Paul also wants to ensure his fans can get involved if they want. “I have followers are different reasons, and they want to be involved in what I’m doing. If they’re involved in our fund, then that’s more people rooting for us and our portfolio companies to win. We almost create this army that’s pushing all of these companies forward.”

Anti Fund plans to write checks of between $100,000 and $1 million to one to two startups every quarter. The goal, says Paul, is to be the “biggest rolling fund on AngelList” investing “around $10 million to $20 million a year.”

Anti Fund is just the newest effort to come from the world of social media influencers. As we reported earlier this month, the management company of another YouTube star, MrBeast, has dived into the world of venture capital with a $20 million fund it assembled with commitments from social media creators. Dispo, a photo-sharing app cofounded by YouTube star David Dobrik also attracted widespread attention and funding earlier this year. Not last, a new startup called Creative Juice just raised funding to provide equity-based financing to YouTube creators. MrBeast, whose real name is Jimmy Donaldson, is among its investors.

“I think a lot of creators with newfound wealth — a lot of YouTubers or Instagram models — don’t necessarily know what to do with their money,” says Paul, who has already diversified into boxing, making his professional boxing debut last year. “I’m trying to lead the way.”

Neither Paul nor Woo is new to startup investing. Woo has invested in roughly 20 startups on his own, including Paribus, an email widget that saved consumers money and that was acquired by Capital One. Paul, meanwhile, previously cofounded another small venture outfit called TGZ Capital that he says participated in the funding rounds of 15 startups.

One of these is Quip, a seven-year-old oral care company that has raised $62 million in funding, according to Crunchbase. Another company backed by Paul is Triller, a social video app that briefly became the most-downloaded free app in the App Store last summer when bigger rival TikTok was facing an uncertain future in the U.S.

Triller has since lost enough of that momentum that talk of going public via a special purpose acquisition vehicle has yet to lead to a tie-up, six months after the company reportedly began exploring the possibility. Still, as a stakeholder, Paul is keeping it in the headlines, including by providing it with exclusive rights to stream a pay-per-view boxing match between himself with former MMA wrestler Ben Asken on April 17.

Interestingly, it’s because Paul moved from L.A. to Miami to train for the fight that he met Woo, a Californian who visited Miami this past January for what was supposed to be a weekend trip and wound up staying. The two say they happened to hit it off at a tech event and, after establishing they had mutual friends, connected over their interest in performance nutrition, with Paul investing in Woo’s newest company, HVMN.

Last month, they decided to partner on Anti Fund, too.

Whether the two succeed as business partners will take time to learn. Certainly, they both have a strong work ethic. Woo has started three companies since graduating from Stanford with a computer science degree. Though Paul makes what what seems an inordinate amount of money for creating YouTube videos, he has created thousands of them in order to amass his more than 20 million followers.

It’s also clear that, as with his social media career, Paul is taking boxing seriously. During his most recent fight, in November, he knocked out former NBA player Nate Robinson in the second round. His first boxing match, against fellow YouTuber AnEsonGib in January of last year, also ended in a knockout just 2 minutes and 18 seconds into the fight.

Many professional athletes see the fights as mere stunts, given Paul’s famous made-for-video antics, from a short-lived marriage, to disregarding the concerns of neighbors in West Hollywood, to being charged by police last June for criminal trespass and unlawful assembly connected with the looting of an Arizona mall.

An obvious risk is that the best deal-makers in the world will see Anti Fund as a stunt, too, or else that something that Paul says or does will ruffle feathers. As industry watchers know, investors’ excitement over Dobrik’s Dispo dissipated quickly after Business Insider first detailed various accusations of misconduct against members of the Dobrik’s online squad, including an accusation of rape against one of Dobrik’s friends that allegedly took place during a video shoot.

Paul, who finished high school online in order to pursue a career as an influencer, is well aware of the Dobrik scandal. It’s because he has grown up in plain view, in fact, that he’s not concerned about something from his past threatening his future.

“It’s definitely [risky to be in my position]. Your life is put on display when you choose to be a celebrity and specifically a vlogger. But because I’ve lived online, everyone’s seen everything already,” he says.

He also thinks that “VCs and people in the business world understand more and more how to work” with influencers and other celebrities who have enormous followings and are bringing them along as their careers evolve. “At the end of the day,” he says of business partners, “if someone is a good person and you have a relationship established with them, that’s what really matters.”

#angellist, #chris-dixon, #groupon, #influencer, #marc-andreessen, #miami, #social, #social-media, #tc, #triller, #venture-capital, #youtube

0

TikTok parent ByteDance joins patent troll protection group LOT Network

LOT Network, the non-profit that helps businesses of all sizes and across industries defend themselves against patent trolls by creating a shared pool of patents to immunize themselves against them, today announced that TikTik parent ByteDance is joining its group.

ByteDance has acquired its fair share of patents in recent years and is itself embroiled in a patent fight with its rival Triller. That’s not what joining the LOT Network is about, though. ByteDance is joining a group of companies here that includes the likes of IBM, the Coca-Cola Company, Cisco, Lyft, Microsoft, Oracle, Target, Tencent, Tesla, VW, Ford, Waymo, Xiaomi and Zelle. In total, the group now has over 1,300 members.

As LOT CEO Ken Seddon told me, the six-year-old group had a record year in 2020, with 574 companies joining it and bringing its set of immunized patents to over 3 million, including 14% of all patents issued in the U.S.

Among the core features of LOT, which only charges members who make more than $25 million in annual revenue, is that its members aren’t losing control over the patents they add to the pool. They can still buy and trade them as before, but if they decide to sell to what the industry calls a ‘patent assertion entity,’ (PAE) that is, a patent troll, they automatically provide a free licence to that patent to every other member of the group. This essentially turns LOT into what Seddon calls a ‘flu shot ‘ against patent trolls (and one that’s free for startups).

“The conclusion that people are waking up to is, is that we’re basically like a herd, we’re herd immunization, effectively,” Seddon said. “And every time a company joins, people realize that the community of non-members shrinks by one. It’s like those that don’t have the vaccination shrinks — and they are, ‘wait a minute, that makes me a higher risk of getting sued. I’m a bigger target.’ And they’re like, ‘wait a minute, I don’t want to be the target.’”

ByteDance, he argues, is a good example for a company that can profit from membership in LOT. While you may think of patents as purely a sign of a company’s innovativeness, for corporate lawyers, they are also highly effective defense tools (that can be used aggressively as well, if needed). But it can take a small company years to build up a patent portfolio. But a fast-growing, successful company also becomes an obvious target for patent trolls.

“When you are a successful company, you naturally become a target,” Seddon said. “People become jealous and they become threatened by you. And they covet your money and your revenue and your success. One of the ways that companies can defend themselves and protect their innovation is through patents. Some companies grow so fast, they become so successful, that their revenue grows faster than they can grow their patent portfolio organically.” He cited Instacart, which acquired 250 patents from IBM earlier this month, and Airbnb, which was sued by IBM over patent infringement in early 2020 (the companies settled in December), as examples.

ByteDance, thanks to the success of TikTok, now finds itself in a situation where it, too, is likely to become a target of patent trolls. The company has started acquiring patents itself to grow its portfolio faster and now it is joining LOT to strengthen its protection there.

“[ByteDance] is being a visionary and trying to get ahead of the wave,” Seddon noted. “They are a successful global company that needs to develop a global IP strategy. Historically, PAEs were just a US problem, but now ByteDance has to worry about PAEs being an issue in China and Europe as well.  By joining LOT, they protect themselves and their investments from over 3 million patents should they ever fall into the hands of a PAE.”

Lynn Wu, Director and Chief IP Counsel, Global IP and Digital Licensing Strategy at ByteDance, agrees. “Innovation is core to the culture at ByteDance, and we believe it’s important to protect our diverse technical and creative community,” she said in today’s announcement. “As champions for the fair use of IP, we encourage other companies to help us make the industry safer by joining LOT Network. If we work together, we can protect the industry from exploitation and continue advancing innovation, which is key to the growth and success of the entire community.”

There’s another reason companies are so eager to join the group now, though, and that’s because these patent assertion entities, which had faded into the background a bit in the mid- to late-2010s, may be making a comeback. The core assumption here is a bit gloomy: many companies seem to assume we’re in for an economic downturn. If we hit a recession, a lot of patent holders will start looking at their patent portfolios and start selling off some their more valuable patents in order to stay afloat. Since beggars can’t be choosers, that often means they’ll sell to a patent troll if that troll is the highest bidder. Last year, a patent troll sued Uber using a patent sold by IBM, for example (and IBM gets a bit of a bad rap for this, but, hey, it’s business).

That’s what happened after the last recession — though it typically takes a few years for the effect to be felt. Nothing in the patent world moves quickly.

Now, when LOT members sell to a troll, that troll can’t sue other LOT members over it. Take IBM, for example, which joined LOT last year.

“People give IBM a lot of grief and criticism for selling to PAEs, but at least IBM is giving everybody a chance to get a free license,” Seddon told me. “IBM joined LOT last year and what IBM is effectively doing is saying to everybody, ‘look, I joined LOT.’ And they put all of their entire patent portfolio into LOT. And they’re saying to everybody, ‘look, I have the right to sell my patents to anybody I want, and I’m going to sell it to the highest bidder. And if I sell it to a patent troll and you don’t join LOT — and if you get sued by a troll, is that my fault or your fault? Because if you join LOT, you could have gotten a free license.’”

#airbnb, #bytedance, #cisco, #flu, #ford, #ibm, #instacart, #intellectual-property-law, #lawsuit, #lot-network, #lyft, #microsoft, #monopoly, #oracle, #patent, #patent-law, #patent-troll, #software, #tencent, #tesla, #triller, #united-states, #vaccination, #vw, #waymo

0

Triller aims for TikTok with additions of influencers like Charli D’Amelio and Addison Rae

Triller had been poised to benefit from a potential TikTok ban in the U.S. Though that may not happen now, given the apparent Oracle deal, the chaos around TikTok has increased the attention given to alternative apps such as Triller. As TikTok users sought out a new home — or at least hedged their bets in the event of a full ban — Triller’s app shot up the app store charts. It even became the No. 1 across 80 different countries at some point, Triller CEO Mike Lu says. At Techcrunch Disrupt 2020, Lu today spoke of Triller’s growing potential and what makes its app unique. He also touched on Triller’s involvement in several high-profile additions, including influencers and public figures like TikTok star Charli D’Amelio and family, and even Trump himself.

Lu also noted another top TikToker, Addison Rae, will make her way to Triller this week, as well.

Though Triller has often positioned itself as a different sort of app than TikTok, the company has steadily worked to onboard the same set of influencers that made TikTok so popular. TikTok star Josh Richards recently joined Triller as both an investor and chief strategy officer, despite being only 18, for example. Other TikTok stars Noah Beck and Griffin Johnson also joined Triller earlier this summer.

And just this week, Triller snagged TikTok’s queen herself, Charli D’Amelio, whose current TikTok account has 87 million followers.

Though Triller often benefits from influencers setting up their own accounts, Lu confirmed Triller reached out to D’Amelio to establish the relationship and to learn how the company could help her create a different type of presence on the Triller app.

Deal terms were not disclosed but Lu said that, “up until a month ago, we had never paid anyone to make a video.”

TikTok stars aren’t the only notable new additions. Last month, Donald Trump launched his own official Triller account, as well, to promote his political campaign.

Lu said he welcomes all the new users, including Trump.

“We’re an open platform and what we really strive for is creativity. So, we welcome anyone — regardless of whether you’re on the left side or the right side of the fence — to express yourself on the Triller platform,” he said. “Seeing some of the world leaders and also some of the biggest influencers in the world join the platform is very exciting for Triller.”

Lu also explained how Triller differentiates itself from the broader social media app lineup, noting that much of the focus of older social networks had been on allowing users to post status updates, not creative content.

Triller’s identity, Lu added, “has always been around music, around content, and around creative discovery.”

“I think that we will always shine more than your traditional status updates — which I think that the world of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter has done really well” he said. But today’s users “really don’t post creative content to those old platforms anymore,” he continued. “They’re actually posting them on platforms like ourselves, where they’re looking for an expressive and creative outlet.”

Lu claimed Triller also benefitted from older social networks’ attempt to enter the short-form video space.

When Instagram launched its TikTok competitor, Reels, Triller saw a 20% spike in usage, Lu said.

“We realized that a lot of users who were waiting for Reels…they saw what it was. And they decided they’re sticking to Triller,” he said.

On the topic of business matters, Lu declined to speak about recent reports of its supposed billion dollar valuation, but did confirm Triller is in the process of raising new funding. He also declined to speak about the status of Triller’s reported $20 billion bid with Centricus for TikTok assets, but said the company believed it would have been a good home for TikTok creator content from an infrastructure perspective.

Not surprisingly, given Triller’s potential growth in the midst of TikTok concerns, Lu also supported the idea that TikTok could be a security threat to U.S. users.

“Given the sensitivity of the data [and] the amount of data that they collect, it does pose a national risk,” Lu said of TikTok. “This is a Chinese-owned  company. The data is sitting, probably, not here in the States…” he added, seemingly refuting TikTok’s claims that its U.S. data was on U.S. servers.

“We take that stuff very seriously. We are a U.S.- based company,” he said, noting how Triller was complaint with U.S. regulations, like COPPA. “Something we actually take very strong pride in is making sure that we uphold [Triller] to the right standards that we’re used to, and as well as the privacy of our users and our citizens,” Lu said.

 

 

 

#apps, #disrupt-2020, #media, #mobile, #social, #tiktok, #triller

0

TikTok-rival Triller inks deal with Reliance’s JioSaavn in India push

Triller, an app that functions similarly to TikTok, has inked a strategic partnership with a platform owned by India’s richest man to cash in on the Chinese app’s ban in its biggest international market.

The Los Angeles-headquartered firm said on Monday it has partnered with Reliance’s JioSaavn music app to embed Triller videos into the streamer “front and center.”

As part of what Triller said was the “first of many announcements to come from these two digital powerhouses,” JioSaavn app will also provide a “prominent” button on its main screen that will enable its users to create a triller video, the American firm said.

The announcement comes as scores of local startups have rushed to fill the void New Delhi’s ban on TikTok and 58 other Chinese apps over cybersecurity concerns created at the end of June this year.

Some of the local firms that are attempting to cash in on TikTok’s absence include on-demand video streaming service Zee5, news aggregator app DailyHunt, and Times Internet’s music streaming service Gaana and video streamer MX Player.

So Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s JioSaavn, one of the largest music streaming services in India, showing user-generated videos doesn’t sound like an absurd idea anymore.

Triller claims JioSaavn has amassed over 300 million users in India. I don’t think so: Its Android app had fewer than 30 million weekly active users earlier this month, according to one of the top mobile insight firms. And a press release from two months ago on JioSaavn’s website says it had over 104 million monthly active users.

But what is more interesting about this partnership is that it exists at all. As of early this month, Reliance Industries, the firm that runs telecom giant Jio Platforms, was in early-discussions with ByteDance to invest in TikTok’s operations in India. (Jio Platforms, which has raised over $20 billion from Facebook and a dozen other investors this year, operates a bouquet of digital services including JioTV, JioCinema, and Haptik.)

At any rate, Rishi Malhotra, co-founder and chief executive of JioSaavn, said the partnership with Triller will enable “artists to create and express our culture in the most innovate ways. We are confident that this partnership will exponentially grow both companies.”

Bobby Sarnevesht, executive chairman of Triller, said he was pleased, too, in a statement.

#apps, #asia, #india, #jio-platforms, #mukesh-ambani, #reliance, #reliance-industries, #social, #tiktok, #triller

0

Triller threatened to sue over report suggesting it inflated its downloads

A new report disputing the validity of Triller’s recently announced download figures led Triller to respond with the threat of a lawsuit. Triller, a newly litigious TikTok rival that could potentially benefit from a TikTok ban in the U.S., has been pushing to capitalize on the recent turn of events regarding its chief competitor. Earlier this month, Triller issued a press release claiming it saw a surge of new downloads following the news of a possible TikTok ban, bringing Triller’s app to a total of 250 million global downloads across iOS and Android. The company also separately reported 65 million monthly active users. Estimates from third-party mobile data and analytics firms call these figures into question, however.

Initially, the app store intelligence firm Apptopia crunched the numbers around Triller’s downloads and found the claim of 250 million downloads to be inflated. According to its analysis, Apptopia had estimated Triller’s app has been downloaded 52 million times since launch across both iOS and Google Play worldwide, not 250 million times, as Triller had said.

TechCrunch reached out to Triller for comment on Apptopia’s findings. Triller and Apptopia then ended up independently getting in touch with one another, through a shared investor. After some back-and-forth between the two, Apptopia decided to pull its report.

During this time, Triller also threatened to sue Apptopia for providing false information in a comment provided to TechCrunch.

Triller CEO Mike Lu told TechCrunch, via an emailed statement, that Apptopia “clearly have allowed themselves to become a pawn of these giant conglomerates, especially those like TikTok who we are in active litigation with for stealing our patents.” (Lu was referring to the recent lawsuit Triller filed against TikTok over patent infringement.)

“We would have welcomed Apptopia with open arms had they just reached out to us, and helped them understand our numbers, and now they have just made themselves part of our TikTok litigation,” Lu threatened. “We will be pursuing a claim against them for spreading harmful, false and knowingly damaging information,” he said.

This is a fairly aggressive response over a dispute about app store downloads. Industry insiders understand that none of the app store analytics firms have perfectly accurate figures. Meanwhile, regular consumers can get a sense of how popular an app is just by looking at the app store’s top charts, which are public.

For further context around the now heavily disputed download number, we asked mobile data and analytics firm App Annie and app store intelligence firm Sensor Tower for their own Triller data. App Annie declined to share downloads, but shared ranking data. Sensor Tower’s data, meanwhile, indicated Triller had reached 45.6 million total global installs across iOS and Android since its launch. That’s even lower than the 52 million figure Triller had vehemently disputed.

Sensor Tower suggested the discrepancies between third-party estimates and Triller’s own numbers could have to do with how Triller counted its installs. Some publishers count other forms of installs, like re-installs, updates and direct installs of Android APKs (meaning, installs outside of Google Play). Third-party firms don’t see these figures. Third-party firms also don’t count things like re-installs because that’s effectively counting the same user twice. Sensor Tower, of course, doesn’t know how Triller was counting installs internally.

Though Apptopia is no longer standing behind its original report and estimate of 52 million installs, its report contained some other interesting insights that are still worth looking at, as they don’t rely on its forecasting technology.

For instance, Triller recently told CNBC it had 65 million monthly active users (MAUs). Counting an app’s MAUs is a way to measure its current usage and popularity. This tends to be a much smaller figure than an app’s total downloads, as not everyone who tries out an app sticks with it as a regular user.

Using Triller’s own download figure of 250 million and its own 65 million MAU figure, it’s claiming a lifetime retention rate of 26%. (The lifetime retention rate is determining the percentage of the app’s total downloads the current MAU number represents.) Triller’s rate is well above what the best apps in the industry are able to achieve.

Snapchat has a lifetime retention rate of 20%, for example. TikTok has an 11% lifetime retention rate. Triller’s is higher, based on its own figures.

Triller’s response to this part of the claim is that its app has changed a lot since its 2015 launch. It didn’t become a social media platform, for example, until 2018. It says if you look at the 90-120 day retention figures for TikTok or Snap, they would be above 30%, which is how its numbers should be compared.

Image Credits: Apptopia

Apptopia’s report also pointed to Triller’s App Store and Google Play chart rankings as another data point in questioning Triller’s download claims.

For those unfamiliar, the app store chart rankings are driven by downloads combined with other factors, like velocity of downloads, ratings, user retention and more.

Image Credits: Apptopia

To analyze Triller’s claim in the context of its chart rankings, Apptopia examined several other popular U.S. apps for comparison’s sake, including Twitter, Pinterest, Gmail and Twitch.

These apps were selected because they had a similar number of U.S. downloads to Triller for the time period Apptopia used to analyze Triller’s claim: July 23, 2015-August 2, 2020. The former is the date of Triller’s launch and the latter is when it issued a press release stating its 250 million download figure.

Image Credits: Apptopia

Simply put, if Triller’s 250 million figure was correct, then the app would seemingly appear much higher on the U.S. App Store and Google Play charts than it does.

On iOS, the average overall ranking for Gmail during this time period was No. 17, Twitter was No. 35, Pinterest was No. 33 and Twitch was No. 233. Triller, meanwhile, was No. 353. (Twitch is lower than the others because it’s a less-used app, because chart rankings aren’t entirely download-dependent and because many Twitch users stream on the desktop, not mobile. But even it ranks higher than Triller.)

You can see that Triller consistently trends well below the others in the U.S. charts. This trend is even clearer when zoomed into the last 90 days (see below).

Apptopia’s estimate here is also in line with App Annie’s data. Though App Annie couldn’t pull a lifetime average rank, as Apptopia did, it was able to pull Triller’s average U.S. iPhone App Store Overall rank for the past 90 days, which was No. 303.

Image Credits: Apptopia

A similar trend can be seen on Google Play, where Triller doesn’t even rank in the Overall category enough days during the given time frame to be statistically relevant. (Gmail didn’t either, but that’s because the app is preinstalled on many Android phones, so users don’t need to download it.)

Triller’s response to this claim is that it, again, was a different app before 2018 and it has hit No. 1 in many non-U.S. markets, including Korea, where it’s currently No. 1. In the last 10 days, it has been No. 1 in Pakistan, Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico, Italy and France, and in the last 30 days in India, U.S., South Africa, Nigeria and dozens of others.

“Our growth and numbers are very fresh and very new, so taking anything long term or just the U.S. is neither relevant nor applicable to us,” said Triller CEO Mike Lu.

Image Credits: App Annie

The timing of Triller’s claim of 250 million downloads follows reports that said the startup is raising hundreds of millions in new funding. Fox Business recently reported Triller has “commitments from investors of $200 million to $300 million.” Pegasus Tech Ventures, a Triller investor, emailed journalists in early August to pitch Triller coverage, saying the app was “now raising around $250m at a $1B valuation.”

Triller also recently made news for suing TikTok over patent infringement, verified in court filings TechCrunch pulled from PACER. 

None of this is coincidental. Triller has been angling to become the TikTok alternative that wins the U.S. market in the event TikTok can’t get a deal done in the time allotted by Trump’s executive order requiring TikTok to sell its U.S. operations or be banned in the country.

Mr. Lu disputed claims made by third-party mobile data firms, when reached for comment. The company stands by its numbers.

“No app intelligence firm has been provided our data,” Lu said. “Any numbers they provide have no relevance or accuracy to our numbers. We are able to validate each and every one of our users. They should also disclose which of our competitors are paying them hundreds of thousands of dollars such as TikTok,” he added.

Lu also openly wondered if a Triller competitor was feeding false information. His full statement is below:

The biggest app intelligence firms have less than 1M total users/customers and less than a few hundred large companies actually providing them real data, any numbers they present are based solely on guessing based on a very small sample group and are far from accurate. The terms of service of all app intelligence firms state that any numbers they provide come from their own guesstimates. While certain companies pay upwards of a few hundred thousand dollars to these firms and give them access to their numbers, we have not provided such access. Any numbers provided by them are wholly inaccurate and they themselves state they have no actual way of validating without us providing them access. These is clearly just a transparent attack by one of our competitors who pays them handsomely to disseminate this false information. It’s sad to see firms that are supposed to be neutral and claim to be pro entrepreneurial and pro American allow themselves to become a pawn of these giant conglomerates, especially those like TikTok who we are in active litigation with for them stealing our patents.”

Following their conversation with Triller, Apptopia tells us it will soon have access to more accurate figures for Triller and will release those at a later time. The companies seem to be working things out.

Apptopia says:

We are working closely with Triller who has been very transparent and is opening up all of their analytics accounts to Apptopia. We are working on internal reports and working with Triller to create the most accurate and up to date data over the short term. Between their tremendous success in emerging mobile markets, which are typically hard to model, (i.e. India, Africa, etc.) and the fact that Triller’s growth is very recent, it is especially hard to compare to peers who have years of growth and history. We feel strongly about publishing the most accurate estimates, and the best way for us to do that is to work hand in hand with Triller and authenticate their real data. We plan to do this over the coming weeks and do our best to be the source of truth on the matter.

#app-stores, #apps, #mobile, #social, #tiktok, #triller

0

Hollywood’s Triller sets its own rhythm even as it gains from TikTok troubles

Triller, the short video app backed by a Hollywood mogul and music celebrities, is rapidly ballooning in both user size and valuation. It’s now seeking a new funding round of $250 million that will push its valuation to over $1 billion, according to a source with knowledge of the matter.

That’s a leap from its $130 million valuation reported last October. Triller’s founder and CEO Mike Lu declined to comment, although another executive confirmed the funding with Dot.la.

The app has emerged as what many see as a TikTok replacement, but it has been around since 2015, two years before TikTok’s debut, and has its own “identity and ecosystem,” the founder insisted.

According to Lu, Triller was already recording “significant growth” even before the Trump administration began mulling a ban or a forced sale of TikTok, although he also admitted the app is getting a boost from the TikTok backlash. 35 million new users joined Triller just within the last few days. The app has so far collected 250 million downloads worldwide.

The Los Angeles-based startup still has a long way to catch up with TikTok, which crossed 2 billion downloads in April. The rivals both tout their capability to let users match videos with music, a defining feature for their success. In fact, Triller recently filed a lawsuit accusing its Chinese rival for infringing its patent for “creating music videos synchronized with an audio track.”

Triller attributed part of its achievement to majority investor Proxima Media, the Hollywood studio founded by Ryan Kavanaugh. Lu said his company has spent zero in marketing to reach its size, something that “has never happened in technology history.” But Ryan, the film producer and financier behind hits like The Fast and the Furious and The Social Network, has no doubt brought unmatched media exposure, celebrity connections, and naturally, their fans who convert to Triller users.

Triller has also secured deals with major record labels, clearing the way for users to make music-centered videos. Its roster of angel investors include Snoop Dogg, The Weekend, Marshmellow, Lil Wayne, among other big names.

“Ryan is second to none in Hollywood, entertainment and media,” said Lu. “I give [Proxima Media] a ton of credit for helping us get to this stage, this massive growth. I don’t think we could have done it without them.”

Celebrity-quality content is one thing that sets Triller apart from TikTok, said Anis Uzzaman, general partner of Pegasus Tech Ventures, which invested in Triller in a strategic round.

“TikTok tries to grow its own celebrities. Triller already has all the big celebrities,” the investor said, refering to videos shared by Alicia Keys, Cardi B, Marshmellow, and Eminem via Triller, which is now a popular place for releasing songs. TikTok has also become a testing ground for artists to test new works.

Meanwhile, the app strives to keep its ordinary users engaged, one thing TikTok has done very well. For example, it boasts of AI-powered editing features that enable users to make professionally looking music videos. It’s also lanched a Billboard chart that ranks the biggest Triller songs, leveling the playing field between emerging creators and celebrities.

“It gives the young people a feeling that they are close to celebrities,” observed Uzzaman.

The investor also believes there’s room for multiple players in the short video space, akin to how Uber and Lyft co-exist. Indeed, China has seen TikTok’s Chinese version Douyin going head to head with Kuaishou in recent years.

For Lu, Triller’s identity is anchored in music, especially hip hop music in the early days, with a demographic of 18-25.

Triller’s App Store images.

TikTok, in comparison, can be everything from light-hearted dance videos to goofy skits. One gets a hint of their differences from the visuals they picked for their App Store pages.

TikTok’s App Store images.

The TikTok alts

The fate of TikTok could still change dramatically in the coming weeks, although so far, there’s a decent chance that Microsoft may scoop up the Chinese-owned app. Some startups are betting that their US identity will help them win over users from TikTok, but a survey done by California-based Creative Digital Agency suggests that may not be the case.

65% of the hundreds of TikTok users it asked said they won’t feel more comfortable with their data policies even if TikTok were an American company, and 84.6% believe the proposed ban is motivated by political concerns.

“The vast majority believe that all American social media platforms are doing exactly the same thing in mining personal data, which is the big privacy concern,” the agency’s managing director Kevin Almeida suggested.

That said, TikTok’s growth has slowed down recently, as some creators hedge the risk of losing followers in the case of a ban. The app’s installs in the US last week were down 7% compared to the four-week average, shows data from analytics firm Sensor Tower. Its total downloads in the US are close to 190 million.

Triller is hardly the only US startup thriving against the backdrop of TikTok’s uncertain future. At least three other micro-video apps have seen new downloads in the hundreds of thousands in the US over the past week, according to Sensor Tower, and two are rooted in China.

They are Byte, Dom Hofmann’s new app after Vine was shuttered by Twitter; Zynn, which is run by Kuaishou, TikTok’s Chinese homegrown rival; and Likee, operated by Bigo, a Singapore-based company acquired by China’s YY. These apps totaled downloads of 2.9 million, 6.4 million, and 16.3 million in the US, respectively.

Growth of TikTok’s old rival Dubsmash isn’t as remarkable but the app has the most US installs among the competitors, reaching 41.6 million recently.

In comparison, Triller has accumulated 23.8 million downloads in the US. The app has seen a surge in downloads in India following the country’s TikTok ban, but it has also ranked among the top photo and video apps across multiple European and African countries where TikTok remains accessible.

The company operates a global team of 350 employees, most of whom are in the US and work on content operation and engineering.

#apps, #byte, #bytedance, #china, #dubsmash, #entertainment, #funding, #music, #tc, #tiktok, #triller

0

As threats to the company mount, TikTok pushes back

As TikTok’s existential rollercoaster ride continues to rattle on, the company is trying to sway regulators and the public with a flood of dollars and arguments wrapped in free enterprise and free speech to ensure that its parent company Bytedance can retain control of its operations.

The push to validate its business comes as reports swirl around a potential Presidential ban and bid from Microsoft to take over the company’s business in the U.S.

As it confronts domestic competitors and political attacks, TikTok and its parent company Bytedance have picked up some defenders from the American civil rights movement.

Late last night, the American Civil Liberties Union tweeted its objections to the proposed ban by President Trump.

“With any Internet platform, we should be concerned about the risk that sensitive private data will be funneled to abusive governments, including our own,” the ACLU wrote in a subsequent statement. “But shutting one platform down, even if it were legally possible to do so, harms freedom of speech online and does nothing to resolve the broader problem of unjustified government surveillance.”

Meanwhile, the sentiment in China seems resigned to the U.S. forcing Bytedance to divest of its US interests. In a survey by Sina Technology on the social media platform, Weibo asking what people think of Bytedance potentially selling TikTok to Microsoft, 36.7k of the total 75.3k respondents saw it as “a reluctant and helpless solution that’s understandable,” while 35.1k said they are “disappointed and hope [the company] can hold up for a bit more”.  https://m.weibo.cn/1642634100/4533238409991735
m.weibo.cnm.weibo.cn
随时随地发现新鲜事!微博带你欣赏世界上每一个精彩瞬间,了解每一个幕后故事。分享你想表达的,让全世界都能听到你的心声!

Even as ownership of the service remains an open question, the company moved quickly to reassure its users that TikTok would continue to operate in the U.S.

The company is also redoubling its efforts to appeal to creators even as it faces defections over its potential mishandling of user data.

On Tuesday, a clutch of the company’s largest celebrities, with a collective audience of some 47 million viewers, abandoned the platform for its much smaller competitor, Triller.

Founded in 2015, two years before TikTok began its explosive rise to prominence, Triller is backed by some of the biggest names in American music and entertainment including Snoop Dogg, The Weeknd,  Marshmello, Lil Wayne, Juice WRLD, Young Thug, Kendrick LamarBaron Davis, Tyga, TI, Jake Paul and Troy Carter. 

Now, TikTok stars Josh Richards, Griffin Johnson, Noah Beck and Anthony Reeves are joining their ranks as investors and advisors. Richards, Johnson, Beck and Reeves are also being compensated by Triller, but the reason they cited for leaving the service are the security concerns from governments.

Triller is compensating Richards, Johnson, Beck, and Reeves, though the details of the deals are undisclosed. Despite that, the creators say they’re leaving TikTok because they’ve grown wary of the Chinese-owned company’s security practices.

“After seeing the U.S. and other countries’ governments’ concerns over TikTok—and given my responsibility to protect and lead my followers and other influencers—I followed my instincts as an entrepreneur and made it my mission to find a solution,” Richards, who’s assuming the title of chief strategy officer, told the LA Times. 

TikTok has responded by announcing a dramatic increase in the company’s creator fund. Initially set at $200 million, in a blog post earlier this week, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer announced that the fund would reach $1 billion over the next three years.

TikTok’s charm offensive may stave off the assaults, but the company will need to address concerns around user data. It’s the most pressing threat to the company and the one it’s least equipped to deal with.

#adware, #american-civil-liberties-union, #byte, #bytedance, #china, #entrepreneur, #kevin-mayer, #lil-wayne, #marshmello, #microsoft, #mobile-applications, #snoop-dogg, #software, #tc, #tiktok, #triller, #troy-carter, #united-states, #weibo

0

Snapchat preempts clones, syndicates Stories to other apps

If you can’t stop them, power them. That’s the strategy behind Snapchat App Stories, which launches today to let users show off their ephemeral content in other apps too. The first partners will let you post Stories to your dating profile in Hily, share them alongside [music] videos in Triller, watch them while screensharing in Squad, or give people a peek at your life in augmented reality network Octi. Developers can now sign up to add Stories to their apps.

Snapchat’s Stories format has been widely cloned, most famously by Instagram and Facebook, but with versions in various states of development for YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, SoundCloud, and more. Snapchat hopes to retain some grip on Stories and dissuade more copycats by letting developers bake the original version into their apps rather than building a bootleg attempt from scratch.

If you need Snapchat to share Stories to popular apps, that could boost content production plus subsequent viewership and ad impressions inside of Snapchat, remind people to shoot Stories, and make sure having a Snapchat account stays relevant. “We definitely think there’s a potential for monetization in App Stories but not yet” Snap’s VP of partnerships Ben Schwerin tells me. For now, Snapchat isn’t injecting ads into alongside Stories into other apps, though that’s clearly the plan.

“There are certain platforms out there that have decided they want to invest in building their own Stories product and their own camera, but it’s not a trivial thing to do. It takes resources and time. We think we can help developers do that” Schwerin explains. “Getting more people out there, regardless of age or where they live, comfortable using Stories probably makes them more likely to be able to pick up and enjoy Snapchat.”

Snapchat initially announced the plan for App Stories at its Partner Summit exactly a year ago. Unfortunately, its second annual developer conference that was set for this week was cancelled due to coronavirus.

Though advertising spend may be reduced, at least the app has experienced an increase in usage while everyone shelters in place. That includes third-party apps built on its Snap Kit platform that lets developers piggyback on Snapchat’s login, Bitmoji, and camera effects.

“We continue to see incredible growth from established apps like Reddit and Spotify and TikTok, and from startups that are really building from the ground up on Snap Kit like Yolo” Schwerin reveals. “People are spending more time at home and less time with friends. We’re seeing increased usage of Snapchat.”

Snap Kit has allowed Snapchat to rally would-be copycats into a legion of allies as it fights to stave off the Facebook empire. That strategy combined with a high-performance rebuild of its Android app for the developing world led Snapchat’s share price to grow from $11.36 a year ago to a recent high of $18.98 before coronavirus dragged it almost all the way back down.

Now, when people shoot a photo or video in the Snapchat camera, they’ll get options to share it not just to their Story or Snap Map and the crowdsourced community Stories, but also to their Story within other apps integrated with Snap Kit. Users will see options to syndicate their Story to products equipped with App Stories where they’re already logged in.

Unlike on Snapchat where Stories disappear after 24 hours, they default to a 7-day expiration in other App Stories. That relieves users of having to constantly post ephemeral Snaps to keep their dating or social app profiles stocked with biographical content.

In Hily, Snapchat Stories partially replaces the homegrown version it’d spun up in the meantime to show potential dates off-the-cuff looks at people’s lives. In Triller, users can tap on a content creator’s profile pic to see biographical Stories instead of just their polished music videos. In Squad, users can co-watch Stories along with other things to screenshare. And in Octi, users can see someone’s Snapchat Story amongst other hidden content revealed by its augmented reality camera.

One app missing is Tinder, which Snapchat originally previewed as its launch partner at the App Stories reveal last year. Tinder is using Snapchat’s Bitmoji stickers, but may have gotten cold feet about Stories. The fact that Snap is only now launching App Stories, and still hasn’t officially launched Ad Kit that lets it inject its ads into other apps and split revenue with developers, shows it’s taking time to adjust to its platform strategy after years of shunning outside integrations. It still won’t reveal the revenue percentage split it’s applying to Ad Kit.

For Snapchat to gain momentum it needs two things: a constant influx of new users, eager to use its augmented reality camera and Bitmoji wherever they’re available, and more impressions to monetize with ads after Instagram stole the Stories use case for untold millions of older users. App Stories could help with both.

“The proliferation of stories as the primary way to share video content on mobile we think is a good thing” Schwerin concludes. But Snap has sat by idly as it’s served as the R&D lab for Facebook’s product. Now Snapchat needs to own the viewership and the ad dollars that Stories generate everywhere other than Facebook. Just coining the concept doesn’t bring in cash.

#apps, #developer, #developer-platform, #hily, #mobile, #octi, #snap-inc, #snap-kit, #snapchat, #snapchat-ads, #snapchat-snap-kit, #social, #squad, #tc, #triller

0