Ryan Kavanaugh’s Next Act: Triller + Fight Club = Digital Disruption

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(Newswire.net — September 9, 2021) —


It makes sense that Ryan Kavanaugh is in the fight game now. Throughout his career, he has fought the system. He’s taken punches, but landed more than his share. Like a good fighter, Kavanaugh keeps getting up off the canvas. 

Ryan Kavanaugh is the owner of Triller, a video-sharing social network, and, along with rapper Snoop Dog, the founder of The Fight Club, a new professional boxing league that is already shaking up the ancient sport in ways that may infuriate the sclerotic boxing establishment, but that are already winning fans among younger online and social media viewers. 

“The thing I’m most proud of in businesses is that I’m always told, ‘That’s impossible; that won’t work,’ ” Kavanaugh says. “We’re always fighting against an old, antiquated system controlled by a few, and always, we have shifted the system.”

Right now, Kavanaugh is looking not just to change the boxing world, but, in a larger sense, the digital advertising world. He is using the combination of Triller and Fight Club as a force-multiplier.

Innovator and serial entrepreneur Ryan Kavanaugh explains: “If Web 1.0 was a pop-up ad that you couldn’t get to un-pop, and Web. 2.0 is swiping through Instagram and having to look at ads between each picture, we think Web 3.0 is about delivering relevant content you want to watch and interact with.”

An example: If a Triller user loves boxing, that user will be delivered a video of Oscar De La Hoya – a Fight Club boxer – talking about one of his upcoming bouts. During his video, De La Hoya will seamlessly insert, “and if you want to bet on my fight, use the Caeser’s app.” 

Conversely, De La Hoya can post a phone number during his video and urge users to text him, and the fighter will text back. This is a level beyond product placement or other embedded text or image-based advertising – which is regulated by platforms, such as Instagram. This method, Kavanaugh argues, takes the ads directly to the user, bypassing platforms and their restrictive rules.

“We think this way is more efficient,” Kavanaugh says.

Ryan Kavanaugh’s Second Act

Hollywood stories are built on second acts, and Ryan Kavanaugh is living his own second act, which started with Triller. 

The Triller app allows users to create music videos, and other content, including lip-sync videos with background music. Triller’s AI-enabled editing tool will do the hard work of editing the video takes for the user, creating professional-looking clips. It is often grouped alongside TikTok, though Triller predates TikTok and has several additional features, such as the ability to use sounds from a Triller library, Spotify and Apple Music.

By any measure, Ryan Kavanaugh’s Triller has been a success. There have been more than 250 million downloads of the app and there are about 65 million users worldwide. Triller partners with major record labels and streaming services. Celebrity users include Chance the Rapper, Justin Bieber, Marshmello, The Weeknd, Alicia Keys, Cardi B, Eminem, Post Malone and Kevin Hart.

The app got an unexpected boost in July 2020, when then-President Trump said he would ban TikTok over concerns that users’ data were not sufficiently protected from the Chinese government. Trump’s comment sent TikTok users scurrying for similar apps.

“I woke up and we were the number one [most downloaded] app in 51 countries,” Kavanaugh told Los Angeles Magazine. “That was obviously a big thing.”

Next, Ryan Kavanaugh decided to take Triller into the squared circle. In November 2020, boxing legends Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. fought to a draw in a pay-per-view exhibition. Shortly after, Kavanaugh launched The Fight Club, alongside Snoop Dogg, telling TMZ Sports that the bout was actually the first in his new professional boxing league.

The idea, Kavanaugh explained, is to once again be a disruptor. This time, in one of the world’s oldest sports. “In boxing, the world hasn’t changed in 50 years,” he said. “It’s the same announcers, the same camera angle – far away, up above – the same bright lights.” Fight Club, he says, brings the edgy entertainment world – the newest of the new – into the hidebound sport. Even the look is different. Fight Club matches feature 50 camera operators, giving the event a cinematic feel. It’s familiar ground for a Hollywood producer like Ryan Kavanaugh.

A day-long Triller Fight Club event in Atlanta in April featured Justin Bieber, The Black Keys, Saweetie, Diplo, Major Lazer, and Snoop Dogg’s Mt. Westmore group, which includes Ice Cube. Rolling Stone reported that more than 1 million people paid $50 each to stream the event. In July, Triller announced a deal with the Madison Square Garden company to bring a monthly, Tuesday-night boxing series to New York’s Hulu Theater at MSG.  

Inspiration from His Father

If Ryan Kavanaugh has a knack for fighting and creating successful businesses, it may be in his genes.

His father, Dr. Jack Kavanaugh, the CEO of Nanotech Energy, a graphene battery company, has combined his medical and business backgrounds to steer groundbreaking companies – and help cure cancer. When he was CEO and Chairman of ZetaRx Biosciences, Dr. Kavanaugh marshalled the intellectual property from three major health care and research institutions, assembled a top-tier management team, and led the development of the FDA clinical trial strategy. Ryan Kavanaugh was a seed investor in his father’s company.

ZetaRx was sold to Juno Therapeutics in 2013, and Juno had the largest biotech IPO of 2014, hitting a market cap of $6 billion. Juno is not just a business success – the company reported 91% clinical trial complete remission of terminal cancer patients treated with their immunotherapy. Four years later, pharma giant Celgene paid $9 billion to buy 90 percent of Juno.

“Everyone said it wouldn’t work,” the son says, “which is what people have always said to me.”

Why Does Ryan Kavanaugh Fight?

Surely, there are easier routes to success in the entertainment and online worlds. Why is Ryan Kavanaugh always spoiling for a fight?

“My grandparents were Holocaust survivors,” Kavanaugh says, “so, what I do is informed by that. We always want to do something that is transformative, so I always pick the path of most resistance. I am willing to take on fights not a lot of people are willing to take on.”

The entertainment world has come to expect the unexpected from Ryan Kavanaugh. Triller and Fight Club are bound to have more surprises in store.