Triller Acquires Hip Hop Battle Platform Verzuz

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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Ben Bergman

Ben Bergman is the newsroom's senior finance reporter. Previously he was a senior business reporter and host at KPCC, a senior producer at Gimlet Media, a producer at NPR's Morning Edition, and produced two investigative documentaries for KCET. He has been a frequent on-air contributor to business coverage on NPR and Marketplace and has written for The New York Times and Columbia Journalism Review. Ben was a 2017-2018 Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Economic and Business Journalism at Columbia Business School. In his free time, he enjoys skiing, playing poker, and cheering on The Seattle Seahawks.