A new Verzuz the battle is brewing. Timbaland and Swizz Beatz sued Triller on Tuesday night for breach of contract, alleging they owed the aspiring TikTok rival more than $28 million.
Timbaland and Swizz Beatz launched the series on Instagram right after the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States in March 2020. It started as a distance competition and, as restrictions were lifted, pivoted to in-person live events streamed in real-time on the social platform. as well as Apple Music. Over the course of the series, dozens of artists were featured, including Snoop Dogg, John Legend, Alicia Keys, RZA, and Ludacris. A battle between 90s icons Brandy and Monica filmed at Tyler Perry Studios drew over 1.2 million concurrent viewers.
Triller in March 2021 announced that it was acquiring Verzuz for an undisclosed sum as part of a deal that made Timbaland and Swizz Beatz shareholders of its parent company Triller Network.
It is now clear that the sum was in the eight figures. It was to be paid in installments: the first at closing, another shortly after, and two more on the first and second anniversaries of the transaction. Triller made the first two scheduled payments, but the company defaulted in January 2022, according to the lawsuit filed in LA County Superior Court by attorneys for Singh Singh & Trauben.
Timbaland and Swizz Beatz reached a settlement and payment agreement with Triller in February. According to its terms, Triller was to pay them $9 million each by March 17 (and sooner if the company reached a minimum funding threshold). After that, Triller would pay them $500,000 each on the first of the month for 10 months. That timeline would be accelerated if the company received $100 million in funding or if it closed its proposed merger with SeaChange International. An additional $120,000 was added for producers’ legal fees.
Triller again breached the agreement, according to the complaint. He did not pay the $18 million in March, nor make any of the $1 million monthly installments. Timbaland and Swizz Beatz sent a notice and request for payment in April, but Triller has yet to pay.
Notably, their settlement agreement included a waiver of defenses. The complaint cites the agreement: “If Triller defaults on any payment obligation under this agreement and fails to remedy within five (5) days of receipt of written notice of such default, the amount total outstanding amount owing under this Agreement shall be expedited and deemed immediately due and payable, and with respect to any such breach, Triller permanently waives and releases all claims and defenses of any kind, both legal and equitable ( “Claim(s) and Defense(s) Waived and Released”), except that timely payment was in fact made by Triller.
It also states that “the prevailing party will be awarded its reasonable attorneys’ fees.” Given that Triller’s only defense allowed under the settlement is “timely payment,” it’s hard to imagine the duo won’t prevail.
Timbaland and Swizz Beatz seek compensatory damages in the amount of $28,095,000 plus attorneys’ fees and costs, plus prejudgment interest.
Triller, which gained traction as a video-sharing app, has since taken a majority investment from Ryan Kavanaugh’s Proxima Media and expanded into live events, including a boxing league called Triller Fight Club. .
Triller is no stranger to litigation, having fought with TikTok and a podcasting duo, and is facing a biometrics privacy class action lawsuit that has since been dropped (among others). Neither did Kavanaugh, whose bankrupt Relativity Media has been mired in litigation including an investor lawsuit, a contract dispute with Netflix and dueling claims with an ousted executive.
Triller did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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