Musical.ly, which launched in Shanghai in 2014 and opened USA offices in Santa Monica in 2016, was originally designed as a hub for 15-second goofy videos of users dancing and singing to snippets of popular tunes. Although financial details were not disclosed, multiple outlets are reporting that Bytedance is paying around $800 million for the buzzy video service.
In 2016, it rolled out a live-streaming app called Live.ly.
The acquisition represents the biggest venture overseas thus far for a Chinese startup valued at US$20 billion that's already spawned one of the world's largest news services. The startup also inked deals with media companies such as Viacom and Comcast's NBCUniversal to make original shows.
The only Chinese social-media company to build a major network outside China will be taken over by a fast-growing Chinese upstart.
"[By] integrating Musical.ly's global reach with ByteDance's massive user base in China and key Asian markets, we are creating a significant global platform for our content creators and brands to engage with new markets", Zhang Yiming, ByteDance's CEO, said in a statement.
Jinri Toutiao - or "Today's Headlines" - is one of the few Chinese internet operations to have found success without the backing of one of the country's three biggest industry players: Tencent Holdings Ltd, Baidu Inc and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Started by Zhang Yiming, Toutiao is on track to make about Dollars 2.5 billion in revenue this year, largely from advertising. In February it bought United States video creation app Flipagram.
The Beijing-based firm, which recently bought video platform Flipagram and also owns English news app TopBuzz, declined to comment on its current valuation.