The battle to try and compete with TikTok in the shortform video space has just become less bloody, as two of TikTok’s competitors have merged.
Clash, set up by former Vine star Brendon McNerney, has agreed to buy Byte, the app developed by Vine founder Dom Hofman, for an undisclosed sum.
The purchase, which is in part funded and enacted by a separate round of seed funding for Clash from Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian’s Seven Seven Six and two other investors, is an unusual one. “It’s going to put Clash in a whole new ballgame, where we have support I couldn’t even imagine,” says McNerney, who declined to share the amount invested in his company.
Clash is by far the smaller of the two apps, with 500,000 users as of fall 2020, its founder McNerney confirmed. By comparison, Byte has 4.5 million users.
What’s more, Clash is going to take itself off app stores, encourage its users to migrate over to the bigger Byte, and then rebrand the app as Clash in the coming months.
“It may seem like a confusing move, but Byte has the userbase,” says McNerney. “We have the creative tools, and we want to point people to the future home of Clash.
“The plan over the next few months is to relaunch the Byte app as Clash,” says McNerney. “This relaunch will have all our monetization tools live.”
Clash has placed its focus on supporting creators’ ability to monetize their content — a bugbear many early TikTok users had until the app launched its Creator Fund, which gives creators over a certain size a share of financial funding to keep making videos.
“We’re 100% merging both of these communities together,” says McNerney. “There’s such a fluidity between not just the types of creators, but even the types of content on both platforms. Dom [Hofman] has done such a great job in building these creative tools. The thing we’re focusing on is not disturbing the experience on either of these platforms.”
McNerney admitted the merger took him by surprise. “It’s definitely unusual, and not something we were expecting to have happen,” he says.
Hofman, who was not made available for interview, will not be staying on with Byte, McNerney says. “Him and his team are not a part of this deal. They’re going on to another venture, which is exciting for them,” he explains. “They’ll be making an announcement on that.”
Hofman and Byte were convinced to sell up because of the pro-creator stance of Clash, the latter’s owner says. “It was something they had been considering but hadn’t necessarily made any move on,” he says.
The whole process of the deal took place in “a few weeks.” “It happened rather quickly,” says McNerney. Negotiations didn’t begin until 2021.
“We’re going to be working in the next month or two integrating all our tools [into Clash],” he adds. “We want to make sure the user experience is largely unedited as far as what Byte users can expect. There are tons of them and we don’t want to disturb their experience.”
McNerney’s goal isn’t necessarily for the newly-merged app’s five million users to take on TikTok’s 690 million users worldwide. “To be explicit, Clash is the monetization platform,” he says. “What we see as a massive missing pillar in the shortform video world is a place where creators can monetize.”