Triller Looks to Become a TikTok Competitor

Triller Looks to Become a TikTok Competitor
Screens: Triller is marketing its AI-powered content platform as an alternative to TikTok.

Triller Corp. is being sold in an all-stock transaction, as the Hollywood-based content platform looks to align itself as a “digital leader” and a strong alternative to TikTok. The merger with AGBA Group Holding Ltd. will mark the completion of Triller’s long-running plan to go public, a journey which included the cancellation of a multibillion-dollar reverse merger in 2022. Triller said the combination of Hong Kong-based AGBA’s financial expertise with Triller’s content creation capabilities will “set the stage” for Triller to emerge as a prominent competitor to TikTok.

Triller markets itself as an artificial intelligence-powered platform for creators and brands to promote content, generate commerce and engage with fans. It will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of AGBA through the transaction, which will create a combined company valued at $4 billion. Triller’s restricted stock unit holders and shareholders will receive 407 million shares of AGBA’s stock and will own 80% of the resulting combined company, while AGBA’s shareholders will own the remaining 20%. In the day following the deal’s announcement on April 18, AGBA’s stock price increase by about 158% to $1.03 per share. The deal has been approved by both companies’ boards and is pending regulatory and stockholder approvals.

“We believe the market is still in the process of digesting the news of the merger,” a company spokesperson said. “The AGBA and Triller teams are working at full speed to close the merger and implement plans and processes (to) allow us to take advantage of current market conditions and believe that the share price will reflect the full value inherent in our transaction in due time.”

Triller will remain in Hollywood and plans to develop a new content creator-focused headquarters at a still-undecided location in Los Angeles. The company added that it also plans to expand its team, which currently has a headcount of about 200. A Triller spokesperson said it doesn’t have any exact number of people it’s looking to hire but is actively seeking front- and back-end developers, influencer and talent management, operations personnel, salespeople and marketing positions. They added that the creator headquarters is still “early stage” and will include a gym, stage, podcast studio and event space.

Triller Chief Executive Bobby Sarnevesht will stay on in his role following the merger, and AGBA group president Wing-Fai Ng will serve as chief executive of the combined company. Sarnevesht said in a statement that Triller believes the deal will be the most efficient route for the company to access public capital markets and secure the liquidity needed to achieve rapid growth and new milestones.

“Through this merger, we are poised to accelerate our innovation trajectory and significantly expand our market presence, creating unparalleled value for our users and stakeholders globally,” Sarnevesht said.

Prior to the merger announcement, Triller filed for a direct listing on the NYSE last August. In January, it filed an amended S-1 indicating that Triller intended to execute that direct listing at an unspecific date this year. The amended filing also showed that, due to an intentional purge of “bot” and duplicate accounts, its user count had declined from 500 million to 327 million.

“Triller will effectively be going public upon consummation of the merger … making a standalone direct listing unnecessary,” a spokesperson said.

Triller currently has about $378 million of total liabilities, including $172 million of long-term debt and $81 million of warrant liabilities. A spokesperson said a significant portion of the company’s long-term debt will be converted into equity and a cashless ‘net’ exercise warrant will take place, which will reduce Triller’s liabilities by $185 million. The remainder of Triller’s liabilities are reportedly related to day-to-day operations and will be assumed by the combined new company upon the merger’s closure.

“These actions are indicative of the confidence Triller’s shareholders have in Triller and reflect their support towards the merger,” the companies said.

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