The deal will result in a new entity called TrillerVerz, which will be valued at $5 billion and trade on the Nasdaq under the new ticker symbol ILLR. SeaChange has already been a public company. Its shares jumped 38% on the news, to about $2.46.
Reverse mergers enable private companies a smoother route to the public markets than a traditional IPO, which requires a complex series of steps and can sometimes drag on for months. Most reverse mergers can close within weeks.
By joining forces, the companies said, they aim to become “a leading AI-powered social media platform for content, creators & commerce.” The goal, they added, is to “create a leading voice on the Web3.0 movement and embrace the power of decentralized systems to enable greater participation in the multi-hundred billion dollar creator economy.”
Triller has gained traction by live-streaming a series of boxing matches featuring unorthodox but widely tracked participants like YouTube personality Jake Paul. Another key holding is Verzuz, the live-stream music platform launched by established music industry figures Swizz Beatz and Timbaland.
In 2019, Kavanaugh’s Proxima Media took a majority stake in Triller, which had launched in 2015 without its current social emphasis. In 2020, the company launched Triller Fight Club, drawing large, young-skewing audiences to its TikTok-like mobile app.
Kavanaugh remains unpopular in some Hollywood circles after the meltdown of Relativity, which filed for bankruptcy twice in three years and left some partners holding the bag. His name does not appear in the press release announcing the merger. Upon the close of the deal in the first quarter of 2022, the combined company will be led by TrillerVerz CEO Mahi de Silva, who will also become chairman. Peter Aquino, president and CEO of SeaChange will join the TrillerVerz team, though his role was not specified.
Earlier this year, Triller’s parent company acquired Fite, a streaming platform best known for boxing and ring-sports events, and customer engagement platform Amplify.ai. Kavanaugh at the time said the deals meant the company had “officially completed our 360-degree content engine.” Over 18 months, the company said it invested $250 million in building out its portfolio, with Triller’s global user base of more than 300 million a centerpiece.
“In our short history, we have evolved from a disruptive social media platform and creator of content to one of the world’s most successful platforms where creators, commerce, and culture meet,” de Silva said in the announcement. “We believe TrillerVerz is becoming the voice of youth culture, a brand that sits at the nexus of content, creator, commerce, and culture in the digital world. Our strategy is to continue to build the world’s largest stage for creators to distribute and monetize viral and engaging content with experiences that elevate culture. We believe that combining with SeaChange accelerates our advertising and marketing capabilities by extending our reach to cable, satellite, and OTT media.”
Aquino said the coming together of the companies “represents a tremendous opportunity to invest in the future of creativity.” He said the TrillerVerz portfolio of businesses “sets a foundation and future unlike any other company we were in discussions with, comparable to Facebook and Google.”