This article was written in partnership with Jon Stojan.
Triller, the U.S.-based answer to foreign social media video sharing services, is poised to have a big 2023. The startup first rose to prominence in 2020, as it made headlines for producing blockbuster pay-per-view boxing matches as well as launching careers for a slew of up and coming combat sports athletes. Beyond its emphasis on sports promotion, the company was also embraced by many creators in 2020 as its China-based competitor faced increasing hostility from Congress and former President Donald Trump. While its competition readies itself for its first-ever testimony before Congress later this month, the future couldn’t look brighter for Triller, who is currently on the cusp of being publicly traded on the NYSE under the ticker symbol “illr.”
For Triller Executive Chairman and Owner Bobby Sarnevesht, the company’s success is due in no small part to the fact that it’s the only big tech company that isn’t owned by big tech. “Our primary stakeholders are the artists and the influencers themselves,” Sarnevesht says. “What people don’t understand is that we aren’t just ‘for the artists,’ we are the artists.” With a string of celebrity endorsements spanning social media, music, sports, and more, Sarnevesht claims that Triller might be “the largest creator owned company ever to exist.”
While Triller does see itself as a bold competitor to other video sharing social media platforms, it does not define itself as such. “A lot of people came rushing onto Triller a few years ago when Trump first brought up the idea of a ban [on the foreign competition],” Sarnevesht says. “We definitely leaned into that…but that is not who we are, that is not how we define ourselves.”
Sarnevesht knows first hand how hard it is to build an audience on social media, and prides himself on Triller’s creator-first positioning. “I hear daily horror stories about hard working artists who spent the last three years building their following – whether it’s to 5,000, 500,000 or 50 million people – only to wake up and find that [their platform] is literally blocking them from marketing to their own audience if they don’t pay [them]. [These platforms] put up a paywall where they actually block you from posting to all your own users without paying for…access [to] them,” Sarnevesht says.
On Triller, Sarnevesht explains, companies are set up to actually give the creator direct ownership of the relationship with their followers and maximize their revenue. “That’s why our products like Cliqz, our SMS app for influencers, get over a 70% open rate and an unheard of over 30% click through rate,” Sarnevesht says. “Creators literally can make 10x or more on Triller [than] they can on any other platform.”
Triller alleges to be majority owned by actual artists, influencers, and talent who in turn can maximize engagement with their followers and take home more revenue versus other platforms where big tech takes the lion’s share. According to Sarnevesht, the company’s “secret sauce” lies in its use of AI. “Triller at its core is an AI company. Its base of AI comes by way of an acquisition approximately two years ago [when Triller bought AI startup] Amplify.AI,” Sarnevesht says. Sarnevesht and team refer to Triller’s Conversational AI system as “ChatGPT for Brands,” claiming that to date, the technology has enabled over 20B conversations with more than half a billion users. “While others are just discovering ‘ChatGPT’ and trying to find some AI angle for valuation purposes, Triller literally is built on AI and always has been,” Sarnevesht says.
Ahead of what could surely be the brand’s biggest year to date, Sarnevesht and team have launched a custom social media converter for creators to transfer their entire video sharing accounts, including usernames, to Triller. “This is our coming out party,” says Sarnevesht. “Transfer your [other accounts] now.”
For Sarnevesht and team, Triller isn’t just a social media app but an entire creator ecosystem unto itself. According to Sarnevesht, Triller has conducted 10 acquisitions since 2020, making it more than a single app but a marketplace setup to allow influencers to, as Sarnevesht puts it, create the best content and share it as broadly as possible across all other social media networks while retaining control of their own users and maximizing what they can make.
Keep your eye on this space for more from Triller and Sarnevesht.