Clash, a short-form video app that became available in August, announced today that it has purchased Byte, another short-form video app that was released a year ago.
In a way, the acquisition is a reunion for Vine, the popular six-second video app that announced it would be phasing out in 2016. Dom Hofmann, the creator of Byte, was the founder of Vine; Brendon McNerney, a founder of Clash, is a former Vine star.
“This is more of an IP acquisition where we will take over the community,” said McNerney. “In a few months we will be releasing Byte and Clash together as a single monetization tool product that is live for developers. The most important thing for us is to make sure that both communities in both apps remain largely unchanged. “Mr. Hofmann will take on an advisory role at Clash.
When it became known in 2017 that Mr. Hofmann was working on a new short-form video app, it was announced as “Vine 2.0”. TikTok hadn’t arrived in the US yet, and there was a definite hunger for bite-sized entertainment.
Byte was released in January 2020. The platform was almost a clone of Vine: users could upload short, repetitive videos to an audience of followers. Unlike Vine, certain metrics like the number of followers have been hidden. “Today we’re bringing back 6-second loop videos and a new community for people who love them,” the app announced on launch day. The company also promised monetization for its creators, something Vine never quite cracked.
But by the time it arrived, the short form video market had evolved. TikTok had become dominant, and its recommendation algorithm was far superior to Byte’s follower model in delivering content to users.
When news of a possible TikTok ban became known last summer, Byte was able to split off some users from TikTok. Downloads rose the app, if only briefly, to the top of the App Store. In the months since then, Byte has tried to keep that interest.
Mr. McNerney built Clash with the intention of focusing on monetization. Neither Byte nor Vine had been great at helping users make money before.
“There’s no easy, productive way for video content creators to consistently make money on one platform,” said McNerney. “There’s no easy way to put your Venmo on your bio or ask for money on an Instagram Live.”
Clash allows fans to tip influencers and pay them monthly subscription fees. Users can also monetize individual content. “If someone on the corner in Silver Lake is busy, someone can walk by and throw a dollar in their guitar case,” said McNerney. “In this case, the video is the guitar case and someone can throw a dollar into this video.”
When the opportunity to purchase Byte arose in December, Mr. McNerney jumped. It felt to him like he was bringing the Vine family back together. “We couldn’t be more excited to add Byte to the Clash family,” Hofmann said in a statement emailed. “Together, we can give makers more power so they can focus on what they love without worrying so much about how to make a living.” Karyn Spencer, who helped spearhead monetization efforts at Vine, is also an advisor to Clash.
Clash isn’t the only platform designed to help influencers make money from their followers. Spurred on by Patreon’s billion dollar valuation and the rise of TikTok, the influencer economy has finally caught the attention of Silicon Valley investors. In October, Stir, an online platform that helps developers monetize and run their businesses, raised $ 4 million from big names in the social field, including Jack Conte, Patreon’s executive director, Chad Hurley, YouTube co-founder, and Casey Neistat, the YouTuber.
Clash is also taking on a new round of investments led by Seven Seven Six, the new mutual fund of Alexis Ohanian, the co-founder of Reddit, with additional funding from M13 Ventures and Plug and Play.
“If you’ve watched the Creator Space for a while, you’ve seen it grow steadily for years, but then it shot forward,” Ohanian said. “There are a lot of tools to build and I think this is the platform for that. If we can create more opportunities for more people to make a living creating content, that’s a good thing for everyone. “