Triller Acquires Hip Hop Battle Platform Verzuz

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 Acquires Hip Hop Battle Platform Verzuz

After a public spat with Universal Music Group, Triller has bounced back with some serious star power.

The short-form social video app's parent company, Triller Network, acquired Verzuz, the online music battle platform launched last March by rappers Timbaland and Swizz Beats on Instagram Live.

As part of the deal, the two musicians will become "large shareholders'' in the Triller Network and will split some of their equity with the 43 artists who have already performed on Verzuz, including John Legend, Brandy, DMX and Alicia Keyes.

Since Verzuz debuted, just as lockdowns upended live music, it has gained 5.5 million Instagram followers and forged temporary partnerships with Apple Music and Twitter. Until now the program's premise has been dueling pairs of artists flaunting portions of their discographies to compete for viewers' adoration. The Verzuz brand has plans to expand beyond music, however, into sports, comedy and live events, the statement said.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Triller recently sparred with Universal Music Group, which pulled its extensive song catalog from the app and called Triller's statement about the situation "removed from reality."

Triller was sued in November by Wixen Music Publishing for copyright infringement, though that case was recently dismissed on a legal technicality. The company has also had several public spats over whether it has juiced Triller's user numbers.

Following Triller Network's expansion into boxing late last year, sources familiar with the company floated Triller's intentions of going public via a SPAC. These sources said the valuation of the potential move would be dependent on a prospective acquisition by Triller. It is unclear whether Verzuz was that acquisition target and whether the SPAC plan will still go through.

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