As Trump TikTok ban nears, the app’s star Charli D’Amelio joins rival Triller

Share via

As President Trump’s ban on TikTok nears, some of the social video platform’s biggest stars, including Charli and Dixie D’Amelio, are joining rival app Triller.

The sisters and their parents, Marc and Heidi, boast a total of roughly 138 million followers on TikTok.

Sixteen-year-old Charli D’Amelio, known for her dance videos, has the largest fan base, with 87 million TikTok followers. On Triller, Charli has accumulated 928,000 followers as of Tuesday. Singer Dixie D’Amelio, 19, has 38 million followers on TikTok.


“We couldn’t be more proud to welcome the D’Amelio family to the Triller family with open arms,” said Bobby Sarnevesht, Triller’s chairman, in a statement. “They are an incredibly multi-faceted and talented family who have already been invaluable to us.”

Triller, an L.A.-based video app, has received a big boost from security concerns and political churn around the blockbuster app TikTok.

Aug. 9, 2020

The D’Amelios joined a growing list of TikTok stars who are increasing their presence on rival streaming services like Triller, Instagram and YouTube as the Trump administration has raised national security concerns about TikTok. The app’s parent company, ByteDance, is based in China and Trump believes that TikTok could be giving U.S. user information to the Chinese government. TikTok says that it has not done so and that its U.S. user data are stored in Virginia backed up in Singapore.

Trump has signed an executive order that could ban TikTok in the U.S. by Sept. 20 if ByteDance does not divest TikTok’s U.S. operations before then. After rejecting an acquisition bid from Microsoft, TikTok on Monday said it had submitted a proposal that would resolve the Trump administration’s national security concerns. Some analysts believe the proposal would not be an outright sale of the business to a U.S. partner. Oracle on Monday confirmed its involvement, saying it “will serve as the trusted technology provider” for TikTok. The proposal will be reviewed by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States and Trump.

Oracle’s co-founder, Larry Ellison, is a Trump supporter who hosted a February fundraiser at his home in Rancho Mirage, Calif. for the president’s re-election campaign.. On Tuesday, Trump told reporters he had “high respect for Larry Ellison” and said his staff was “very close to a deal.”

Oracle beat out Microsoft to partner with TikTok. Analysts question whether this will satisfy President Trump’s concerns about TikTok’s ties to China.

Sept. 14, 2020

The uncertainty surrounding TikTok’s future has benefited rival apps like Triller, which rose to the No. 1 downloaded iPhone app in the nation on Aug. 1, according to San Francisco-based analytics firm App Annie. Triller said it has more than 100 million monthly active users.

Marc D’Amelio said his family recently met with Triller to try out features the app will be rolling out soon.


“Our family is looking forward to sharing our own exciting and unique content utilizing these features as another fun platform to engage with our followers and fans on,” Marc D’Amelio said in a statement.

TikTok did not respond to a request for comment on the D’Amelios joining Triller.

Some creators compare this moment to when Vine, a popular video app, shut down, forcing them to rebuild their fan bases elsewhere.

“It’s all about diversifying your audience as quickly and as early as you can,” said Amy Neben, a partner at Los Angeles-based Select Management Group. “If you’re not diversifying, you definitely have your head in the clouds ... it’s really on you to own your audience and to be able to pivot them where you need to pivot them.”

Some video creators, including Josh Richards — who has 21.6 million followers on TikTok — have joined Triller not just as users but also as investors. Richards has also become Triller’s chief strategy officer.

Trump and Donald Trump Jr. are also Triller users and have posted videos on the app.

Several foreign-born engineers accepted jobs at TikTok in July, but their visa transfers have yet to be approved by the U.S. government, putting their status in limbo.

Sept. 12, 2020

Other tech companies have launched similar features to compete with TikTok. For example, Instagram debuted Reels in the U.S. last month, and YouTube is offering a beta of its experience called Shorts in India this week. Both Reels and Shorts let users record and upload 15-second videos.


Last month, TikTok and TikTok employee Patrick Ryan sued the Trump administration over the executive order, arguing it is unconstitutional. TikTok employees were concerned that Trump’s executive order could prevent them from receiving a paycheck, while some H-1B visa holders have been in limbo waiting for the government to allow them to start working at TikTok.

On Monday, the Department of Justice said in court documents that the Department of Commerce does not intend for Trump’s executive order to “prohibit the payment of wages” or benefits to TikTok employees or contractors.

Ryan said in a statement that the government’s response “assures this right for employees, and it removes the problem of our wages and benefits being held hostage by the government.” He added that he hopes the government will address the issue regarding the H-1B visas. The Department of Justice did not immediately return a request for comment.