Triller Eyes at Least Three SPACs to Take It Public, Considers Acquisition

Sam Blake

Sam primarily covers entertainment and media for dot.LA. Previously he was Marjorie Deane Fellow at The Economist, where he wrote for the business and finance sections of the print edition. He has also worked at the XPRIZE Foundation, U.S. Government Accountability Office, KCRW, and MLB Advanced Media (now Disney Streaming Services). He holds an MBA from UCLA Anderson, an MPP from UCLA Luskin and a BA in History from University of Michigan. Email him at samblake@dot.LA and find him on Twitter @hisamblake

Triller Eyes at Least Three SPACs to Take It Public, Considers Acquisition

TikTok competitor Triller is in advanced talks with at least three blank-check companies to go public at a valuation between $3 billion and $6 billion, according to sources familiar with the matter.

That range is broad because the L.A.-based viral video app is seeking to acquire one of its strategic partners, a U.S. subsidiary of a foreign-listed company, before merging with a special purpose acquisition company or SPAC, those sources said. The target company is a tech business that Triller already works with to help monetize its app. If that acquisition goes through, one source said, Triller's revenues would increase from around $100 million to $300 million, and its valuation could be on the higher end of the reported range.


Triller livestreamed this past weekend's eight-round showdown between Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. at the Staples Center in collaboration with Fite.TV. The event exceeded revenue expectations and convinced company insiders that Triller had enough momentum to make a successful run on Wall Street.

Since April, Triller has been working with bicoastal boutique investment banking firm Farvahar Partners to pursue a $250 million fundraise at a valuation of $1.25 billion. Triller has raised over half that amount, one source said.

But over the summer, several SPACs expressed interest in Triller, as rival TikTok faced a potential shutdown by the Trump administration. When TikTok's parent company ByteDance revealed it sought a $60 billion valuation for the acquisition of its subsidiary – and reputable companies like Oracle, Walmart and Microsoft still wanted to buy it – the interest intensified, one source said. (The deadline for a TikTok sale has been extended to Dec. 4.)

Farvahar Partners brought in M. Klein & Company, another boutique investment banking firm, to be a co-advisor because of its expertise with SPACs. M. Klein's majority partner, Michael Klein, also directs Churchill Corp, a SPAC, but Churchill is not one of the SPACs that Triller is currently considering, the people said.

SPACs are empty-shell companies that raise money to go public with the intention of eventually merging with a private company. To those private companies, going public via a SPAC typically offers a simpler and cheaper route to the public markets than an IPO. SPACs have grown particularly popular this year following several high-profile and successful SPAC mergers, such as DraftKings and Virgin Galactic.

Founded in 2015 and acquired by Proxima Media in 2019, Triller told dot.LA it currently has around 18 million daily active users and 65 million monthly active users. The company recently faced accusations from former employees that it has inflated its user numbers, but the company denies those allegations. Either way, its numbers are a sliver of TikTok's estimated 800 million monthly active users.

Prior to Triller's current funding round, the company had raised rounds of $50 million and $28 million. In total, the company says it has raised around $225 million.

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Sam Blake primarily covers media and entertainment for dot.LA. Find him on Twitter @hisamblake and email him at samblake@dot.LA

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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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PCH Driven: Director Jason Wise Talks Wine, Documentaries, and His New Indie Streaming Service SOMMTV

Jamie Williams
­Jamie Williams is the host of the “PCH Driven” podcast, a show about Southern California entrepreneurs, innovators and its driven leaders on their road to success. The series celebrates and reveals the wonders of the human spirit and explores the motivations behind what drives us.
Jason Wise holding wine glass
Image courtesy of Jason Wise

Jason Wise may still consider himself a little kid, but the 33-year-old filmmaker is building an IMDB page that rivals colleagues twice his age.

As the director behind SOMM, SOMM2, SOMM3, and the upcoming SOMM4, Wise has made a career producing award-winning documentary films that peer deep into the wine industry in Southern California and around the world.

On this episode of the PCH Driven podcast, he talks about life growing up in Cleveland as a horrible student, filmmaking, Los Angeles and his latest entrepreneurial endeavor: A streaming service called SOMMTV that features–what else?–documentaries about wine.

The conversation covers some serious ground, but the themes of wine and film work to anchor the discussion, and Wise dispenses bits of sage filmmaking advice.

“With a documentary you can just start filming right now,” he says. “That’s how SOMM came about. I got tossed into that world during the frustration of trying to make a different film, and I just started filming it, because no one could stop me because I was paying for it myself. That’s the thing with docs,” or “The good thing about SOMM is that you can explain it in one sentence: ‘The hardest test in the world is about wine, and you’ve never heard about it.’”

…Or at least maybe you hadn’t before he made his first film. Now with three SOMM documentaries under his belt, Wise is nearing completion of “SOMM4: Cup of Salvation,” which examines the history of wine’s relationship with religion. Wise says it’s “a wild film,” that spans multiple countries, the Vatican and even an active warzone. As he puts it, the idea is to show that “wine is about every subject,” rather than “every subject is about wine.”

For Wise, the transition to launching his own streaming service came out of his frustration with existing platforms holding too much power over the value of the content he produces.

“Do we want Netflix to tell us what our projects are worth or do we want the audience to do that?” he asks.

But unlike giants in the space, SOMMTV has adopted a gradual approach of just adding small bits of content as they develop. Without the need to license 500 or 1,000 hours of programming, Wise has been able to basically bootstrap SOMMTV and provide short form content and other more experimental offerings that typically get passed over by the Hulus and Disneys of the world.

So far, he says, the experiment is working, and now Wise is looking to raise some serious capital to keep up with the voracious appetites of his subscribers.

“Send those VCs my way,” Wise jokes.

Subscribe to PCH Driven on Apple, Stitcher, Spotify, iHeart, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.

dot.LA reporter David Shultz contributed to this report.

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