Oracle appears to be in the driving seat to secure a much-touted deal with TikTok-owner ByteDance, although as a partner rather than owner of the social app.
Microsoft, which was the first to announce its intention to bid for the firm in early August and was later joined by Walmart, posted a brief statement on Sunday confirming it had not been successful.
“ByteDance let us know today they would not be selling TikTok’s US operations to Microsoft. We are confident our proposal would have been good for TikTok’s users, while protecting national security interests,” it said.
“To do this, we would have made significant changes to ensure the service met the highest standards for security, privacy, online safety and combatting disinformation, and we made these principles clear in our August statement. We look forward to seeing how the service evolves in these important areas.”
The rush to secure new US owners for the Chinese app was driven by new concerns from the Trump administration over Beijing-sponsored global surveillance. An executive order gives until tomorrow (September 15) until TikTok is effectively shut down in the US.
However, China has hit back by banning the sale of some homegrown AI technology, which could include the all-important algorithm behind TikTok. That could seriously reduce the value of any subsequent sale.
According to reports, Oracle is now primed to do the deal with ByteDance, although as a “technology partner” rather than outright owner. That would most likely see the enterprise IT giant merely host TikTok data on its extensive cloud infrastructure — a much diminished relationship from the one Trump envisaged, as ByteDance will still be its owner.
With final approval from both Washington and Bejing still needed over any future deal for TikTok, there’s still plenty of time for new developments.