Clash, an abridged video app that became available in August, today announced that it has purchased Byte, another shorthand 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 closure in 2016. Dom Hofmann, the creator of Byte, was one of the founders of Vine; Brendon McNerney, founder of Clash, is a former Vine star.
“It’s more of an IP acquisition where we’re going to take control of the community,” McNerney said. “In a few months we will be launching Byte and Clash together as one product with live monetization tools for creators. The most important thing for us is to make sure that the two communities on both apps remain largely unchanged. Mr. Hofmann will assume an advisory role to Clash.
When word leaked in 2017 that Mr. Hofmann was working on a new short video app, it was advertised as “Vine 2.0.“TikTok hadn’t arrived in the United States yet, and there was clearly a thirst for bite-size entertainment.
In January 2020, Byte was published. The platform was a near-clone of Vine: users could download short, looping videos to an audience of followers. Unlike Vine, some metrics, like number of followers, were hidden. “Today we offer 6-second looping videos and a new community for people who love them,” the app ad on the day of its launch. The company also promised monetization for its creators, which Vine had never quite cracked.
But by the time it arrived, the short video market had moved on. TikTok had become dominant, and its recommendation algorithm was far superior at serving content to users than Byte’s follower model.
Yet when news of a possible TikTok ban swirled last summer, Byte was able to remove part of TikTok’s user base. Downloads have lifted the app to the top of the App Store, if only briefly. In the months that followed, Byte struggled to maintain that interest.
Mr. McNerney created Clash with the intention of focusing on monetization. Neither Byte nor Vine had ever been great at helping users make money.
“There is no easy, productive way for creators who create video content to consistently earn money on a platform,” McNerney said. “There’s no easy way outside of putting your Venmo in your bio or asking for money on an Instagram Live.”
Clash allows fans to tip influencers and pay them a monthly subscription fee. Users can also monetize individual pieces of content. “If a person is on the street around the corner of Silver Lake, someone can spend a dollar in their guitar case,” McNerney said. “In this case, the video is the guitar case and someone can throw a dollar for that video.”
When the opportunity arose to buy Byte in December, Mr. McNerney jumped in. It was as if the Vine family were together again. “We could not be happier that Byte is joining the Clash family,” Hofmann said in an emailed statement. “Together, we can empower creators so they can focus on what they love without spending so much time worrying about how they’re going to make a living.” Karyn Spencer, who helped lead the creator monetization efforts at Vine, is also an advisor to Clash.
Clash isn’t the only platform looking to help influencers make money from their followers. Stimulated by Patreon’s billion dollar valuation and the rise of TikTok, the influencer economy has finally caught the attention of investors in Silicon Valley. In October, Stir, an online platform that helps creators monetize and run their business, raised $ 4 million from big names in the social space, including Jack Conte, CEO of Patreon, Chad Hurley, a co-founder of YouTube, and Casey Neistat, the YouTuber.
Clash, too, is embarking on a new round of investment led by Seven Seven Six, the new investment fund of Alexis Ohanian, the co-founder of Reddit, with additional funding from M13 Ventures and Plug and Play.
“If you’ve been watching the designer space for a while, you’ve seen it steadily increase for years, but then it exploded,” Mr. Ohanian said. “There are a lot of tools to build, and I think that’s the platform to do it. If we can create more ways to allow more people to make a living creating content, that’s good for everyone. “