WSJ: Google may acquire Firework to rival TikTok

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Google is in talks about buying Firework, a video-sharing startup that is a rival to TikTok. AFP

Google is reportedly considering buying Firework, a US-based video sharing platform, in an apparent move to counter competition from TikTok – known in China as Douyin – in the exploding short video market.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) cited insiders saying Google held talks with the video sharing start-up, although these talks may lead to a partnership rather than acquisition.


Sources said Chinese Twitter-like platform Sina Weibo also expressed interest in a Firework acquisition, but talks with Google are “further along”, according to the WSJ.

Valued at over $100 million in a fundraising campaign earlier this year, Firework is owned by Loop Now Technologies in Redwood City, California.

In spite of some similarities, the US video platform differs from TikTok, owned by the Chinese company Bytedance, in key areas.

Firework mainly targets an older audience, while TikTok is more favourable with teens.

With more than one million users across the world, Firework allows its subscribers to create video clips of a maximum length of 30 seconds, double TikTok’s 15 seconds.

What Firework offers is unique Reveal technology, which allows users to record vertical and horizontal video simultaneously and enjoy a flip-the-screen viewing feature.


Valued at around $75 billion, TikTok is a worldwide success with versions in 75 languages, which potentially poses a threat to social media giants like Facebook, YouTube and Snapchat.

The short-form video sharing juggernaut ranked the world’s third most-downloaded app in the first quarter of this year, after WhatApp and Messenger, according to Sensor Tower.

TikTok said in July that it currently has 500 million users globally.

Considering the increasing popularity of short videos, social media players – either giants or start-ups – are showing a desire to grab a bigger piece of the pie.

In the US, Facebook is reportedly testing a similar app called Lasso, while messaging app Snapchat is experimenting with adding a feature similar to TikTok.

In China, TikTok alongside other Chinese short video apps, has been making inroads into international markets, despite some resistance from local governments and fierce competition.

Likee, another short video app that originated in China, ranked among the top 10 in the Indonesia Play Store, according to the mobile data and analytics service provider App Annie. Bigo Live, a live-streaming app, boasts seven million monthly active users from Southeast Asian countries.