Clash, a short-form video app available in August, today announced that it bought Byte, another short-form video app, released a year ago.
In a way, the acquisition is a reunion for Vine, the beloved six-second video app that announced its shutdown in 2016. Dom Hofmann, Byte’s creator, is Vine’s founder; Brendon McNerney, the founder of Clash, is a former Vine star.
“This is an IP acquisition where we are going to take over the community,” said McNerney. “In a few more short months, we will be releasing Byte and Clash together as a product with direct creator monetization tools. “The most important thing for us is to make sure the two communities on both apps remain largely unchanged.” Mr. Hofmann will take on an advisory role with Clash.
When it was leaked in 2017 that Hofmann was working on a new short-form video application, it was heralded as “Vine 2.0”. TikTok has yet to come to the US, and obviously people crave small entertainment.
In January 2020, Byte was release. The platform is almost a clone of Vine: Users can upload short, repeatable videos for audiences to follow. Unlike Vine, certain stats, like the number of followers, were hidden. “Today we bring 6 second repeat videos and a new community for those who love them”, the application announced on its launch date. The company also promised an ability to monetize its creators, something Vine never understood.
But by the time it appeared, the market for short-form videos was already growing. TikTok has become dominant, and its recommendation algorithm is far superior to delivering content to users compared to Byte’s tracking model.
However, when news of the potential TikTok ban appeared last summer, Byte was able to remove some of TikTok’s user base. Downloads have caused apps to rise to the top of the App Store, if only for a short time. In the months since then, Byte has struggled to keep that interest.
Mr. McNerney built Clash with the intention of focusing on making money. Neither Byte nor Vine before was great at helping users make money.
“There is no simple and effective way for video content creators to consistently monetize the platform,” said McNerney. “There’s no easy way but to include Venmo in your profile or ask to make money on Instagram Live.”
Clash lets fans tip influencers and pays them a monthly subscription fee. Users can also monetize individual pieces of content. “If a person was singing on a street corner in Silver Lake, someone could walk by and drop a dollar in their box,” Mr. McNerney said. “In this case, video is the keyboard and someone can throw a dollar at that video.”
When the opportunity to buy Byte in December, Mr. McNerney jumped in. For him, it felt like bringing Vine’s family back together. “We couldn’t be happier to have Byte join the Clash family,” said Hofmann in an emailed statement. “Together, we will be able to put more power in the hands of creators so they can focus on what they love without having to spend a lot of time worrying about how they make a living.” Karyn Spencer, who has helped the top creator monetization efforts at Vine, is also an advisor to Clash.
Clash isn’t the only platform looking to help influencers monetize their followers. Driven by Patreon’s multibillion-dollar valuation and the rise of TikTok, the influential economy finally caught the eye of Silicon Valley investors. In October, Stir, an online platform that helps creators monetize and run their businesses, raised $ 4 million from big names in the social space, including Jack Conte, director CEO of Patreon, Chad Hurley, Co-Founder of YouTube and Casey Neistat, Youtuber.
Clash is also entering a new investment round led by Seven Seven Six, the new hedge fund of Alexis Ohanian, the co-founder of Reddit, with additional funding from M13 Ventures and Plug and Play.
“If you’ve been following the creator space for a while, you’ve seen it grow steadily for years but then it has skyrocketed,” says Mr. Ohanian. “There are a lot of tools that need to be built, and I think this is the foundation for doing that. If we can create more ways for more people to make a living by creating content, that’s good for everyone. “