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Ex-Barclays CEO Bob Diamond Chairs TikTok Challenger Triller

The former CEO of Barclays is now chairing TikTok challenger Triller.

As the Financial Times (FT) reported Saturday (April 27), Bob Diamond has been chairing Triller owner AGBA since September and will serve in that capacity at the video-and-music-focused social media startup as well. 

According to the report, Triller claims to be worth more than $3 billion, though it has just $36 million in revenue and $1 million in cash on hand last year.

AGBA, a financial services company, announced it was merging with Triller earlier this month, saying the transaction valued the combined company at $4 billion.

FT noted that Triller is a small but controversial music industry player, which has drawn investments from the likes of Kendrick Lamar and The Weeknd, and well as accusations that it inflated its user numbers.

The company has also been taken to court by the world’s biggest record labels — Universal and Sony — over unpaid royalties. 

Triller has tried to capitalize on the outcry over TikTok’s Chinese ownership, with former CEO Mahi de Silva calling on Americans to delete TikTok in 2022, the report added.

The company’s deal with AGBA came just before President Joe Biden signed a law that would ban TikTok in the U.S. unless parent company ByteDance sells the business. 

“We believe there is a massive opportunity in social media, in video sharing coming out in the United States in the next year or so and we believe that Triller is by far and away the best positioned company to take advantage of that,” Triller/AGBA CEO Wing-Fai-Ng told FT.

However, it’s not clear when or if ByteDance will sell TikTok. The company said last week on another social media platform, Toutiao, that it has no plans to sell.

But a recent Wall Street Journal report pointed out that ByteDance has limited options, as the Chinese government has indicated it would not permit the sale, and has since 2020 banned the export of content-recommendation algorithms, like the kind used by TikTok.

And TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew has said selling the U.S. business while retaining the rest of the operations might “break” the app.

“Rest assured, we aren’t going anywhere,” Chew said in the video posted after Biden signed the ban into law. “We are confident and we will keep fighting for your rights in the courts. The facts and the Constitution are on our side, and we expect to prevail again.”