Triller Abandons Reverse Merger, Plans To Go Public via Direct Listing

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.

Triller Abandons Reverse Merger, Plans To Go Public via Direct Listing
Photo by Solen Feyissa on Unsplash

Los Angeles-based Trillerverz, the company that operates social video platform Triller, has ditched plans to go public through a reverse merger with digital advertising firm SeaChange, the companies announced Tuesday.

Instead of merging with publicly traded SeaChange, Triller said it will pursue its own initial public offering via a direct listing. If approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Nasdaq stock exchange, Triller expects to be listed on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol “ILLR” by September, subject to market conditions.

The company said it was “responding to higher than expected demand for its convertible debt offering,” as well as “a clear preference” for its own direct listing from current and future shareholders. Direct listings are a type of IPO in which no new shares are issued by a company and no new capital is raised; rather, existing investors are able to cash in on their stake by selling their shares directly to the public. The direct listing model has been embraced in recent years by tech companies such as Spotify and Slack.

"The current market demands clear and disciplined thinking. After much deliberation, Triller has determined that the best course of action is a direct listing for Triller," company CEO Mahi de Silva said in a statement. "A Triller IPO is a cleaner transaction, allowing us greater control of our destiny.”

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The company had considered going public through a direct listing last year, but struck a merger deal with SeaChange in December that was expected to value Trillerverz at around $5 billion. The firms said Tuesday that they “mutually agreed” to terminate that merger agreement.

Launched in 2015, Triller is a user-generated short-form video platform similar to TikTok. The company has since expanded into live entertainment via pay-per-view boxing (Triller Fight Club), concerts (TrillerFest) and rap battles (Verzuz). The startup has also been on an acquisition spree as of late; since last year, it has scooped up live events streaming platform Fite, fan engagement company Fangage and influencer event firm Thuzio. It also bought, an AI chatbot tool.

Triller has raised $393 million from private investors to date, according to PitchBook Data. It reported a $770 million loss last year, with most of that ($496 million) tied to stock compensation expenses, according to SEC filings by SeaChange in February. Triller’s de Silva told Insider that the vast majority of those expenses came from using stock to buy other companies.

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