A day after Billboard reported that short-form video service Triller has been inflating its monthly active users (MAU) in press releases when compared to what the company reports to rights holders — which the company did not deny — Triller is changing its stance.
In a second statement to Billboard on Wednesday (Feb. 17), Triller CEO Mike Lu now says the company never inflated user numbers and Triller should be valued at over $10 billion based on Billboard’s report.
“We have never inflated any user numbers,” Lu says. “The only ‘rights holders’ Triller has ever had are the labels who don’t receive the information in question and, if anything, have just accused us of understating our numbers. The allegation being made that Triller’s real numbers were 25 million MAU last year values Triller at a $10 billion-plus valuation (using TikTok as a benchmark). We can’t tell if these ‘rights holders’ are trying to help us or hurt us?!”
Triller’s Series B round valued the company at $130 million in October 2019 according to The Wall Street Journal; In October 2020, Reuters reported Triller had raised $100 million out of the $250 million the company was seeking to raise, valuing the startup at $1.25 billion. Triller is expected to go public as part of a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) in the coming weeks.
As previously reported, in a December 2019 press release, Triller claimed it had over 26.5 million monthly active users, but a source with direct knowledge of the situation tells Billboard that Triller had reported a user base that was around half that in January 2020. In a July 2020 press release, Triller claimed it had 50 million monthly active users; a source tells Billboard Triller reported having a user base closer to 25 million monthly active users in the same month.
When reached for comment on Tuesday, Triller did not deny inflating its user numbers and instead used its statement to argue that there is no legal definition for MAU or daily active users (DAU). It also claimed that the metrics are irrelevant for Triller (MAU and DAU are still key performance indicators among social networks like Triller, including Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and TikTok).
“There is no legal definition of MAU/DAU,” Lu said in a statement to Billboard on Tuesday (Feb. 16). “We are an open ecosystem, not a walled garden app like TikTok or other social networks,” Lu continued. “Triller’s value is in monetizing users, not MAU or DAU. In the past, the press has had a hard time understanding this. Therefore, last year we elected to stop sharing any MAU or DAU data and have no intention of doing so in the future. It has no relevance to our value or our monetization. Unique to Triller, our model encourages users to interact with our content “off network,” which by very definition says we are pushing away MAU and DAU.”