Who would have thought the short-video app business could be so nasty?
This weekend, the chairman of Triller sent a fiery memo to the company’s 350 employees claiming that the controversial and much larger, Beijing-based rival TikTok, which is in the crosshairs of the Trump Administration, is engaging in a media campaign to drum up bad press in recent weeks to stunt Triller’s growth.
The memo, which was sent to employees via Slack messaging and obtained by FOX Business went on to say TikTok has a powerful ally in its “bullying” of its smaller rival: The Chinese government.
“TikTok is ‘an arm of the Chinese government,’ wrote Triller’s chairman Bobby Sarnevesht. “As we have witnessed, they do not play by the American rules. We have brought legal action against them for stealing our technology. They refuse to even answer to date. As a Chinese company they do not hold themselves to our standards of practice. What we consider unfair business practices, even potentially illegal, they may consider to be normal everyday business.”
Both these apps appeal mostly to young people and influencers who post snappy videos and cute memes. But the battle for these users is anything but cute.
Triller has already sued TikTok in a lawsuit filed in July in the U.S. District Court in the Western District of Texas—and alleges TikTok has infringed on its patent entitled “systems and methods for creating music synchronized with an audio track.” And they’ve also waged their own media campaign to capitalize on TikTok’s contretemps with the Trump administration.
Ever since the Trump Administration sought to ban TikTok from being used in the US over national security concerns, Triller, based in San Francisco, has sought to capitalize on the bad press. TikTok remains the much larger short-video app with over 800 million monthly users compared to Triller’s 65 million (this number is now up for debate as recent reporting alleges the number may be inflated).
TikTok is currently working on a deal to partner with US tech giant Oracle to address some of the Trump Administration’s concerns that it gives its user data to the authorities in China for spying purposes, but White House officials are still concerned that the Chinese will remain a significant player in the deal since TikTok isn’t selling its all-important algorithm that could give Beijing access to US user data.
TikTok denies that it spies on US users or that it gives the Chinese access to customer accounts.
But Sarnevesht says: “TikTok has already shown its bullying extreme tactics. First, they denied being a Chinese company and storing any data in China. During their most recent conflict with the US Government, it was discovered that they do store and run the US data in China. They claim to be a Cayman Islands Company but as we have witnessed two weeks ago the Chinese government has full control of what they can and cannot do.”
A Triller spokeswoman had no comment on the memo but would not deny that it was sent to employees on Saturday. A TikTok spokesman declined comment
Triller, run by Sarnevesht and co-owned by Ryan Kavanaugh, has been raising money for growth amid TikTok’s troubles and may sell itself to a special purchase acquisition company, FOX Business has learned. But in recent weeks, Triller has caught the eye of the media, where some news reports suggest the company is looking to buy users and the all-important “influencers” that post their videos on TikTok and that the company has inflated its user numbers.
Sarnevesht said in the memo that “we have successfully acquired many of the top 100 influencers on TikTok. These influencers represent hundreds of millions of followers and many have moved into Triller houses and are becoming exclusive to Triller. We have made a huge dent in their business. In return, they are responding by using their power and influence in the press by attempting to destroy our reputation.”