| New Delhi |
Updated: August 11, 2020 7:10:25 pm
Triller, the Los Angeles-based short video app backed by Hollywood producer Ryan Kavanaugh and music artistes such as Snoop Dogg and Lil Wayne, aims to fill the void created by the exit of TikTok from India.
“We are an American company and we have very strict rules, regulations on local, state and federal law that we must abide by,” Abbos Roohparvar, Senior Vice-President at Triller, told indianexpress.com over a call from Los Angeles. “The only data we collect is music taste, the type of content you like,” he said, adding how being an American startup puts Triller in an advantageous position over its competitors.
The Los Angeles-based startup said though the app has been available in India for some time, a proper launch is expected next quarter. The ban on TikTok by the Indian government in late June has already brought Triller into the limelight with downloads shooting up from 1 million to 30 million almost overnight. Till date, Triller has been downloaded 40 million times from the Google Play Store and Apple App Store in India.
Although an urban-centric app, Triller is taking a different route in India, where it faces stiff competition from local players such as Roposo and Mitron. “We’re a platform where everybody is welcome, where all types of creativity is celebrated,” said Roohparvar. “We will continue to reach out to every section of society and geography in India to encourage the youth to adopt and enjoy the platform.”
Despite the local competition, he is confident that Triller is a better product than other similar apps. “Anybody can go ahead and create a Mickey Mouse app and stitch something together but building an amazing product with an amazing team of engineers is another thing,” he added.
Roohparvar reminisced how a lot went into making Triller, which was launched in 2015, two years before TikTok went live. “We have some of the most talented product and engineering folks in the world, most of them with PhDs, who have created some of the most sophisticated algorithms and AI to date, which supersedes TikTok and anybody else. We also have one of the most advanced algorithms for our Rico engine that is currently being worked on,” he said.
One big difference between Triller and its competition, as Roohparvar explained, is the relationship and deals the start-up has with music labels and the world’s top musicians. Warner Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and Universal Music Group have licensing deals with Triller, while its angel investors include Snoop Dogg, The Weekend, Marshmello, Lil Wayne, Kendrick Lamar, Baron Davis, among others. Triller also has active partnerships with Spotify and Apple Music. Roohparvar said the company is in talks with local music labels, though he wasn’t ready to reveal the names yet.
“Our core strengths lie in curating content. Instead of serving up videos from just popular users on our platform, it also offers recommendations for the content shared by other folks who are not influencers that users can add to their social discovery pages,” Roohparvar said.
Unlike TikTok, Triller is a music-first app that has social elements to it. The app is focused on artistes who create music. In a way, Triller is a destination for content creators, artists, music producers or anyone who appreciates music and likes to watch original content.
“When you put together singing and dancing together, a company like us and India, where song and dance is huge, whether it’s with your artistes in the label music industry or in the film industry, you have the best combination of both,” he explained. In recent months, several Indian artistes like Armaan Malik, Bhuvan Bam, and Awez Darbar have joined Triller.
Roohparvar acknowledged that influencers are a lifeline for social platforms like Triller. However, unlike rival platforms, the company is against paying them to join its platform. “Our influencers see tremendous more value than just a single paycheck.” According to Roohparvar, artistes join Triller because they know that their music will be distributed on a platform that’s number one in the world.
As the ban on TikTok looms in the US, Ryan Kavanaugh, the Hollywood mogul who owns Triller through its investment company Proxima Media, and CEO Mike Lu are doing everything to bring the short-form video app in the big picture. Triller recently filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Tiktok and its parent company ByteDance. In its lawsuit, Triller alleges TikTok is infringing on its patent for “creating music videos synchronized with an audio track.” Triller claims that it had patented the video format back in 2017.
The future of TikTok is uncertain after President Donald Trump recently issued executive orders that would ban the social media app in 45 days if it is not sold by its Chinese-owned parent company. On August 1, Triller jumped into the number one position on the App Store in the US and reached the top of Google Play Store in over 85 countries last week. Roohparvar said the app has 260 million downloads and over 75 million active users globally, as of August 10.
Still, Triller has a long way to catch up with TikTok, which had 2 billion installs in April out of which 611 million were in India. Even though TikTok is banned at present, if Microsoft manages to purchase TikTok’s US and India operations, it would be hard for Triller to compete. And the competition is also coming from Facebook-owned Instagram, which has recently launched a TikTok-like feature called Reels in the US and India.
To strengthen its presence in India, Roohparvar says Triller will get localised features soon that will help grow the popularity of the app in the country. Triller – headquartered in Los Angeles and with offices in New York, London and Paris, has over 100 employees in India.
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