Reddit snaps up TikTok rival Dubsmash

The site is known for its large community of Black and Latinx creators

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Reddit has acquired short-form video platform and TikTok rival Dubsmash for an undisclosed sum, the companies announced. Dubsmash will keep its current platform and brand, while Reddit will integrate Dubsmash’s video creation tools. “Dubsmash provides a welcoming platform for creators and users who are under-represented in social media,” Reddit said.

The site boasted over a billion video views per month in January 2020, according to TechCrunch. Back in 2015, though, Dubsmash was best known as a lip-syncing app you could use to create, but not post, videos. After its popularity faded in 2017, however, the Dubsmash team rebuilt the app in the style of Musically, which eventually merged into TikTok. Where TikTok’s best-known creators are white, however, Dubsmash is particularly popular with Black and Latinx users, as Reddit noted in a statement:

Dubsmash’s communities are driven by young, diverse creators—about 25 percent of all Black teens in the U.S. are on Dubsmash, and females represent 70 percent of users. About 30 percent of users log in every day to create video content, indicating a high level of retention and engagement, and Dubsmash enables more than one billion video views per month, demonstrating the strength of its communities. 

TikTok was famously criticized when a creator appropriated dance moves created by Dubsmash artist Jalaiah Harmon without giving credit. Since then, Dubsmash has set up creator mansions for artists of color and helped them negotiate brand deals, according to a recent New York Times article. “The Black creator community has been underacknowledged and underfunded, despite having made arguably the largest contributions to social media,” Dubsmash content head Barrie Segal told the NYT.

Dubsmash might seem an unlikely acquisition target for Reddit, which has been seen as a safe harbor for hate speech. In June, the site’s moderators posted a scathing open letter to CEO Steve Huffman, writing that “the problem of Reddit’s leadership supporting and providing a platform for racist users and hateful communities has long been an issue.”

At the same time, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian recently stepped down from Reddit’s board, promising to use future profits from his Reddit stock to “to serve the black community, chiefly to curb racial hate.” He also asked to be replaced on the board by a black candidate. Current CEO Steve Huffman said Reddit would honor that “meaningful gesture,” and pledged to “use this opportunity for change.” Ohanian was subsequently replaced by Y Combinator CEO Michael Seibel.

In a statement about the acquisition, Huffman said that “Dubsmash elevates under-represented creators, while Reddit fosters a sense of community and belonging across thousands of different topics and passions. It’s clear that our missions closely align and that our community-focused platforms can coexist and grow as we learn from each other.”

Update 12/14/2020 1:30 PM ET: The original article incorrectly stated that Alexis Ohanian was CEO at Reddit, but he never held that position.

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