Dec 23, 2021 - Economy

Social media's next gen is rushing to Wall Street

Illustration of a cell phone at the end of a red carpet.

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

A new generation of social media networks are planning to go public in 2022, while Big Tech rivals face massive regulatory and competitive pressures.

Why it matters: As more industries move online — including commerce, gaming and gambling — more social networks will rise and use Wall Street to finance growth.

Driving the news: Triller, a TikTok-like platform known for hosting concerts and MMA fights, said Wednesday it will go public at around a $5 billion valuation, via a merger with Massachusetts video software firm Seachange International.

  • This came just days after Reddit announced IPO plans and Rumble said it would go public via a SPAC.
  • Truth Social, former President Trump's not-yet-launched platform, continues moving toward its SPAC merger.
  • Quora reportedly has interviewed IPO bankers, and there's rampant speculation that Discord soon will seek an IPO, after brushing back a takeover approach from Microsoft.

TikTok may be the exception to this trend. Its Chinese parent company, ByteDance, shelved U.S. IPO plans over the summer after Chinese officials raised data privacy concerns, and there's been no word yet on revival efforts.

Yes, but: These social networks are still small compared to legacy giants. Analysts expect Meta (which owns Facebook and Instagram), Google (YouTube) and Amazon (Twitch) to account for up to 90% of the global total of digital ad spend outside of China.

  • Moreover, going public doesn't necessarily result in future valuation growth, as Twitter shares are below where they finished their first day of post-IPO trading in 2013. And both Facebook and Snap stumbled out of the post-IPO gate, although they both later recovered.
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