Musical.ly, a Chinese App Big in the U.S., Sells for $1 Billion

Musical.ly, a Chinese App Big in the U.S., Sells for $1 Billion

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Employees of Musical.ly at the Shanghai offices of the start-up. Musical.ly has risen to prominence among a teenage and tween audience by enabling users to record quick videos set to music.

Credit
Gilles Sabrié for The New York Times

SHANGHAI — The only Chinese social media company to build a major network outside China will be taken over by a fast-growing Chinese upstart.

Musical.ly, a video-based social network popular with teenagers in the United States and Europe, is being sold for between $800 million and $1 billion to Bytedance, the company that controls the Chinese news aggregator Toutiao, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The deal knits together Toutiao’s 120 million Chinese users with the roughly 60 million who use Musical.ly in the United States and Europe, ultimately linking a platform in China with a more global one.

Musical.ly will continue to operate a separate product, according to a statement on the deal, though the two companies will cooperate closely.

Despite the dominance of established social media services like Facebook and Snap, Musical.ly rose to prominence among a teenage and tween audience by enabling users to record quick videos set to music. Young users of the app performed coordinated dance moves or lip-synced to the music.

Since then the company has branched out to other types of videos, including live streaming, and has even sought to attract short-form video shows.

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