Byte, a TikTok competitor, has been purchased by Clash, another TikTok competitor. It sounds as though Clash may be merged into Byte, but the details are vague for the time being. Clash’s website now directs visitors to download Byte, and the company says Clash won’t be available on the iOS App Store for “an extended period.”
Clash co-founder Brendon McNerney told The New York Times that the two apps will be released “together as one product” within a few months.
“The market for apps that let you create and post videos from your phone has become extremely saturated. There are many competitors with similar (or better) feature sets, and far more distribution,” Byte creator Dom Hofmann, who was previously a co-founder of the video app Vine, wrote in a forum post today explaining why the app had been sold.
The combination of the two apps speaks to the immense challenge any company will face going up against TikTok — let alone an independent company without a huge corporate backer and an existing network of apps to prop it up. A ton of TikTok-alikes have popped up throughout 2020, and the smaller apps now face competition not just from TikTok but from TikTok clones built into huge apps like Instagram and Snapchat, too.
Hofmann started working on Byte, meant as a successor to Vine, in 2017, before any one app had really cracked video on mobile. But by the time Byte finally launched, in January 2020, TikTok had already blown up and was known for making stars with an audience beyond its app.
Throughout 2020, Byte maintained a small and quirky community, and it even set up a program to pay some creators for their videos. But the app never broke out into the mainstream, and its biggest surge seemed to come when TikTok creators were looking for a backup in case then-President Donald Trump followed through with his plans to ban the app in the US. The ban was held up in court, and interest in TikTok competitors seemed to die down quickly.
Clash is a newer app, having quietly launched in beta in late July. It works pretty much the same as TikTok, opening onto a main feed where you can swipe through video after video. Its big hook seemed to be that one co-founder, McNerney, became known as a star on Vine.
Going forward, Hofmann writes that Byte needs to “be built upon a clear vision that leads to differentiating features and rapid improvements.” Hofmann will stick around as an adviser to Clash, but he — and most of Byte’s team, it seems — will be moving onto Discord. That means Clash seems to be buying Byte’s technology and name, and it’ll be taking over everything else about the app going forward.
The Report Door reached out to Clash for more details on the apps’ future. An email to Byte’s press contact bounced, with a message saying the account had been disabled.