Just how big is Triller, anyway? Owner Ryan Kavanaugh just shared some insights into TikTok’s biggest rival.
Triller is just one of many short-form video apps going toe-to-toe against TikTok. It’s growing exponentially in places like India, where TikTok is banned. It’s also poised to become more relevant than ever to the music industry.
“We call ourselves the new MTV,” Kavanaugh jokes in an interview with Fast Company. Kavanaugh has had a controversial past with his companies. He founded Relativity Media, which promised to take the risk out of film financing (it didn’t). Relativity Media eventually declared bankruptcy twice, but Kavanaugh is back with a new shot at earning billions in Silicon Valley.
Kavanaugh and his partner Bobby Sarnevesht took a majority stake in Triller in 2019. That’s before the global coronavirus pandemic swept across the world in 2020. It’s also before the Trump administration began raising national security concerns about TikTok’s Chinese ownership. Now Triller is standing to reap the benefits of that fight, even if the TikTok ban appears to be dead in the water.
Triller has a growing userbase of 15-27 year-olds, the same age demographic targeted by TikTok. “Brands all want to be there,” he says, referring to Triller. It’s a growing app that has the potential to skyrocket if TikTok fails.
Kavanaugh isn’t shy about pointing out TikTok’s national security issues. “Protect your family, and our country do not use #tiktok,” he tweeted before buying into the company. Kavanaugh says since the turbulent TikTok ban in India and the potential ban in the US, the app has grown tremendously. He says it is up to 231 million downloads worldwide, with around 65 million active monthly users.
That number is disputed, as former employees accuse Kavanaugh of inflating the app’s numbers. A Business Insider report from October outlined how those numbers might be inflated.
Triller has denied the charges that it has inflated its monthly active user numbers. Music stars like Snoop Dogg, The Weeknd, Lil’ Wayne, Roddy Rich, and others have invested in the company. Kavanaugh says he’s also fielding offers from Wall Street to take the company public.
Dealmakers reportedly want to buy Triller and merge it into a special purpose acquisition company (SPACs). Kavanaugh says the company has fielded nine SPAC offers and is seriously pursuing at least five of them. Triller’s roots are in music videos, but it could become a serious American TikTok contender.