Triller Is Going Public: Here’s Why Its Creators Should Care

Triller logo on a smartphone over stock market background
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Short-form video app Triller has finally been seeing some buzz. It officially filed to go public. And not long after, the video sharing company settled its copyright lawsuit with Sony Music Entertainment, which had claimed Triller was not fulfilling payments. 

Triller’s journey to the New York Stock Exchange has been tumultuous at best. In 2020, the company intended to go public through a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). Failure to entice investors led Triller to explore a reverse merger with video streaming company SeaChange. In June 2022, Triller backed out of this plan, claiming that its shareholders preferred a direct listing, and filed to go public. It had been largely quiet on this front as Triller apparently waited for SEC approval. 

In other areas, however, Triller was facing the noise. In 2022, Sony Music Entertainment sued Triller after the company allegedly stopped paying licensing fees. Universal Music Group filed a similar lawsuit a few months later. But Triller’s payment issues aren’t limited to music executives and Grammy-winning artists. Its own user base has claimed that the company failed to make good on contracted payments. 

In 2022, Black content creators said the company never followed through on its promise to pay 300 people a total of $14 million. Before that lawsuit, other creators sued the platform for refusing to pay them for overseeing a virtual creator house.  

Perhaps this is why users appear to be indifferent about Triller’s big move—scrolling through Triller and trying to find any sort of reaction to the news results in only endless dance videos. But ignoring Triller’s most recent moves would be a mistake.  

Triller first blew up in 2020, when TikTok users worried about a potential ban were looking for a new short-form video app. Since then, the company has shifted its business model to de-prioritize short videos and emphasize big events with big names. In 2021, the company acquired online music platform Verzuz. Last year, Triller acquired a majority interest in combat sports company Bare Knuckle Fight Championship. It bought the influencer marketing firm Julius earlier this year. Which is to say, based on its recent moves, the app is shifting its focus toward live events. The company’s 2022 pitch deck seems to highlight these endeavors more than its actual social media app. 

To that end, as part of its recent IPO announcement, Triller highlighted its AI capabilities. In 2021, the app company acquired A.I.-based customer engagement platform Amplify.AI and has recently been pushing the way its AI can transform user engagement and content distribution. 

This is all to say, that Triller as a company doesn’t seem all that interested in its flagship app and the 550 million people who use it—though that exact number is currently up for debate 

For Triller, highlighting its biggest users, latest acquisitions, and newly integrated technology makes sense. The rest of the social media world is already overrun with short-form video content, which makes it hard to compete in that area. And, star-studded fights featuring Jake Paul and rap battles with Snoop Dogg are more likely to generate cash flow. But, most creators won’t grab headlines the way a famous rapper would. The new ecosystem Triller is cultivating has no room for the vast majority of creators. Instead, a few top creators will get most of the monetary benefit, while its smaller creators go the way of the dinosaur. Unless of course, they start paying attention. 

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