Oracle may be competing with Microsoft to buy TikTok

18 Aug 2020279 Views

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According to reports, Larry Ellison’s Oracle could be interested in snapping up TikTok before the app is banned in the US.

According to a report from the Financial Times today (18 August), multinational technology company Oracle is the latest business to express an interest in acquiring Chinese social media platform TikTok.

This comes after reports that Twitter may be considering a takeover of TikTok’s US operations, and that Microsoft might purchase the app from its Chinese parent company, ByteDance.

People who were briefed on the matter told the Financial Times that Oracle has held preliminary talks with ByteDance. According to the publication, Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison was “seriously considering” purchasing TikTok’s operations in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Oracle was working with a group of investors that already own a stake in ByteDance, including General Atlantic and Sequoia Capital, according to the sources. One source claimed that Oracle represents a “credible alternative to Microsoft’s offer”, while others said it is unlikely that Twitter would be able to afford a TikTok acquisition.

The situation with TikTok in the US

The sale of TikTok to a US company has been prompted by an executive order published earlier this month by US president Donald Trump. The executive order stated that TikTok along with WeChat would be banned in the US by September, unless the apps are sold by their Chinese parent companies.

Trump said that a ban was necessary to deal with the “national emergency” posed by the two apps, claiming that the spread of mobile apps developed and owned by companies in China continues to “threaten the national security, foreign policy and economy” of the US.

Ellison, who is co-founder and CTO of Oracle, is one of the “few people in Silicon Valley” who has openly supported Trump, according to the Financial Times. The billionaire recently held a fundraiser for the US president at his estate in California. The White House has not commented on Oracle’s reported interest in TikTok.

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There have been some other recent developments in the TikTok saga. On Friday (14 August), Trump issued another executive order, giving ByteDance more time to find a buyer for TikTok.

The deadline for the sale of TikTok’s US operation has now been extended from 20 September to 12 November. The latest executive order also requires ByteDance to destroy any TikTok data belonging to US users and report to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US once all data has been destroyed.

ByteDance has also been told destroy any data collected from TikTok’s precursor, Musical.ly, which was purchased in 2017.

Social media wars

On Saturday (15 August), it was reported that Trump has signed up for one of TikTok’s rivals in the US, Triller. According to The Verge, Triller has seen a sharp rise in the number of users since Trump announced his executive order to ban TikTok in the US.

Triller co-owner Ryan Kavanaugh described the platform, which launched in 2015, as the “adult version” of TikTok and “a little more risqué” than the app that is popular with teens.

Triller still lags behind TikTok, which had 315m downloads in the first quarter of 2020, and has hit a total of 2bn downloads globally.

In response to concerns raised by Trump and others, TikTok launched a new Twitter account with the goal of communicating clearly with users and an information hub for news, FAQs and other resources. On the new website, TikTok said that it is “setting the record straight” and tackling “rumours and misinformation” about the platform.

“TikTok is not available in China,” the website says. “Its US user data is stored in Virginia with a back-up in Singapore and strict controls on employee access. TikTok has never provided any US user data to the Chinese government, nor would it do so if asked. Any insinuation to the contrary is unfounded and blatantly false.”

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

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