Triller CEO Mike Lu takes swipe at TikTok as app tries to make impression on Wall Street
Triller CEO Mike Lu continued to press his company’s rivalry with TikTok, calling it the “natural successor” to the hot Chinese-owned property that was almost banned in the U.S.
On Tuesday, Lu made a rare public appearance at the UBS Global TMT Virtual Conference, where he discussed how the video startup plans to jumpstart its user base, with a goal of reaching 250 million monthly users in 2021. “The natural audience will come to both Triller and TikTok,” Lu said.
Triller competes with TikTok for the affection of teens and twentysomethings, who create videos with dancing, music and comedy, and they often include snippets of information and inspiration. Triller shot to prominence in August, after the Trump administration tried to ban TikTok in the U.S., calling its Chinese owner ByteDance a national security threat. In fact, TikTok was banned in India in June, and Triller seized the moment.
“We took advantage of the situation,” Lu said. “We also didn’t sleep for two days.”
Triller has been aggressively going after TikTok’s user base overseas, and some of its top stars in the U.S. Triller coaxed some of TikTok’s biggest creators including Charli and Dixie D’Amelio to join the app. TikTok interim CEO Vanessa Pappas even noted the threat that Triller posed to its business by poaching its stars and advertisers in a court filing fighting Trump’s order to shut down the app.
TikTok is also suing Triller in the U.S. over claims the company stole its technology.
Triller rose to No. 1 in app download ranks immediately following Trump’s TikTok threat, but there have been some questions about exactly how popular the app is. Triller claims it has 65 million monthly active users across the world, but independent analytics companies like App Annie have not confirmed the stats. In the past three months, the app has bounced up and down the download charts, at points below the top 500 apps in the U.S., but at times it surged into the top 20 and higher.
Triller has had some highly publicized victories. In November, Triller produced the pay-per-view boxing match between Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr., generating 1.6 million paid viewers. It was a marketing coup for the company, and Triller plans more events in 2021, Lu says.
Next year, Triller plans a concert with K-Pop group Black Pink, which Lu said was “now bigger than BTS,” another K-Pop sensation.
On Tuesday, Triller announced a similar concert with Bebe Rexha in a sponsored event for NYX Professional Makeup, which has tie-ins with Snapchat, Twitch and YouTube.
Building through partnerships
Triller is trying to build its brands through such partnerships, Lu said. Triller is a Snapchat partner and uses that app’s augmented reality technology. Triller users can also share video to Snapchat.
“We’re putting our tool set out there in the hands of creators all over the world,” Lu said, adding that the creators can “upload that content to whatever platform.”
To supercharge growth Triller said it has a deal with Samsung to come pre-installed on millions of its 800 million devices worldwide, and a similar pre-install deal with Reliance Jio in India. “That gives us quite a bit of new influx,” Lu said.
Triller attended the UBS conference at a time when it is also looking to raise money, which made the Wall Street event a natural stop. Triller has reportedly sought to raise about $250 million and is looking at a possible special-purpose acquisition company deal or a public offering.
As for TikTok, it recently was named Ad Age’s top marketer of the year, and has so far withstood pressure from Trump to sell the company or shut down in the U.S.