Triller Inc, a budding competitor to popular short-video app TikTok, is in discussions with blank-check acquisition companies about a merger that would take the US social media company public, according to people familiar with the matter.
The move comes as Triller seeks to capitalize on TikTok’s woes.
US President Donald Trump’s administration has ordered TikTok’s Chinese parent ByteDance Ltd (字節跳動) to divest the app, citing concerns that the data of US citizens could be accessible to the Chinese Communist Party government.
TikTok has sued the US government to stave off a ban from US app stores while deal negotiations continue.
Triller, which was launched in 2015 and only has a fraction of the 100 million users that TikTok boasts in the US, has said it hopes that the uncertainty over its rival’s future would drive more influencers and users to its platform.
Triller is working with investment bank Farvahar Partners as it negotiates a potential deal with a so-called special purpose acquisition companies (SPAC), the sources said.
A SPAC is a shell firm that raises money in an initial public offering (IPO) to merge with a privately held company, which then becomes publicly traded as a result.
Triller’s SPAC negotiations are happening alongside discussions with investors about a private fundraising round, led by investment bank UBS Group AG, in which the Los Angeles-based company is seeking to raise about US$250 million, the sources said.
Triller has secured about US$100 million in that round at a US$1.25 billion valuation, the sources said.
It is deliberating whether to proceed with the private fundraising or opt for the deal with a SPAC, one of the sources added.
Farvahar Partners and UBS did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
SPACs have emerged as a popular IPO alternative for firms this year, providing a path to going public with less regulatory scrutiny and more certainty over the valuation that will be attained and funds that will be raised.
Triller, owned by media industry veteran Ryan Kavanaugh and healthcare executive Bobby Sarnevesht, said earlier this year it had 65 million monthly active users on its short video app, although many analytics companies have said those figures cannot be verified.
Triller’s celebrity users include musicians Alicia Keys, Cardi B and Eminem.
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