Jaeson Ma: ‘I woke up to Triller being the #1 app in the world’

A co-owner of the hot TikTok competitor told us why Triller stands out from its rival.

By Trung Phan (@TrungTPhan)

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I recently caught up with entrepreneur and investor Jaeson Ma, who is a co-owner of Triller and previously invested in Musical.ly (which became TikTok).

Our chat was initially intended to cover Triller’s deal to livestream the comeback Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones Jr. fight.

But the TikTok story has clearly taken precedence, with Jaeson messaging me on Saturday morning that he “woke up to Triller being the #1 app in the world” after President Donald Trump announced his intention to ban the ByteDance-owned app from the US.

This Q&A was lightly edited for clarity.

How is Triller different from TikTok?

Since the beginning, Triller has been a platform for music artists. [Triller CEO] Mike Lu launched the product with the goal of “finding the next Justin Bieber or Chris Brown”. 

The Big 3 music companies (Sony, Universal, Warner) are all invested in Triller, so are dozens of artists (e.g., The Weeknd, L’il Wayne, Kendrick Lamar). Some have said: “TikTok is America’s Got Talent. Triller is MTV.”

TikTok’s AI specializes in search and recommendations. Triller’s AI edge (after acquiring Mashtraxx) is its ability to seamlessly edit music with videos and photos. 

Finally, Triller integrates music players like Apple Music into the platform and everytime an artist’s song is played, it counts as a stream (and the artist gets paid).

When did you know Triller was going to be big?

In early 2019, Cardi B, Chris Brown and Chance The Rapper started posting on Triller. Because of the deals we put in place with the music labels, the videos could be shared without being taken down. The content started ricocheting around the internet and the user activity reminded me of when Musical.ly scaled.

The unique thing about Triller is that we haven’t spent a dollar on marketing or influencer acquisition. We are a platform for artists. We empower artists to get their brand out in a way that is authentic to them. And that’s why they all post for free on the platform. 

What’s next for Triller? 

While Triller’s initial focus is music, we host TikTok-type content of all sorts: comedy, cooking, fitness. And we’re always looking to offer new products.

With our recent acquisition of Halogen Networks, Triller is expanding into more live and premium content that is exclusive to the platform.

A few months back, a good friend contacted me and asked if I wanted to be involved with Mike Tyson’s return to the ring. I saw Tyson’s post on Instagram of him training and punching like he was 30 years old and was like ‘whoa!’  I brainstormed on the best way to bring Tyson back and — for Triller — it was a great opportunity to experiment with pay-per-view (PPV) on our livestreaming platform. 

Along with Eros Innovations, we closed a deal to have Triller be the home for the comeback fight between Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. The bout is scheduled for September 12th and you can watch exclusive training videos on Triller in the lead-up to the PPV date.

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