THE NEUTRAL ZONE
A TikTok-Oracle deal is under review by the U.S. Treasury Department, Secretary Steven Mnuchin confirmed today. The potential agreement must also be evaluated by the White House and the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States to meet a Sept. 20 deadline. TikTok confirmed the proposal’s submission in a statement provided to NPR. Late Sunday, Microsoft stated that ByteDance rejected its offer to purchase TikTok’s U.S. operations.
Two people familiar with the deal said it would be more appropriate to call the deal a partnership rather than an acquisition, stating that Oracle will likely be announced as TikTok’s “trusted tech partner.” The transfer of TikTok’s algorithms has not been confirmed, as recent Chinese government restrictions require government approval for tech exports. Walmart, which had planned to partner with Microsoft on its deal, said Sunday the company “continues to have an interest in a TikTok investment” and is talking with ByteDance and others.
President Donald Trump has indicated he would support a deal between Oracle and TikTok. Late last month, he said, “I think Oracle is a great company and I think its owner is a tremendous guy, a tremendous person. I think that Oracle would be certainly somebody that could handle it.”
State-run outlet China Global Television quoted anonymous sources who said “ByteDance will not sell TikTok’s U.S. operations to Microsoft or Oracle, nor will the company give the source code to any U.S. buyers.” In addition, TikTok filed a lawsuit against the U.S. federal government in August to prevent the government from “impermissibly banning” the app.
TikTok: Oracle beats out Microsoft for ByteDance’s U.S. operations, report says – USA Today – 9/14/2020
Enterprise software company Oracle reportedly did make a bid, as reported by The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and several other outlets. TikTok has sued to stop the ban, but not the sale order. The sale situation has been complicated by several factors, including Trump’s repeated demands that the U.S. government should get a “cut” of any deal, a stipulation and role for the president that experts say is unprecedented.
TikTok on the clock: U.S. reviewing Oracle’s proposed acquisition of Chinese-owned app – The Washington Times – 9/14/2020
Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said Monday the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States will begin this week reviewing a proposal for Oracle to acquire the Chinese-owned video app TikTok. While no American company appeared able to rescue TikTok before President Trump’s Sept. 15 deadline to avoid a ban, Mr. Mnuchin told CNBC that Mr. Trump’s executive orders mean the deadline extends to Sept. 20 to get a deal done.
Oracle’s TikTok deal accomplishes nothing – The Verge – 9/14/2020
The last-minute sale is strange in a number of ways — for a start, it’s not a sale at all. After months of insistence that TikTok sever its US operations from Chinese ownership, we’re now settling for a vague partnership between Oracle and the US TikTok operation. It’s still unclear exactly what Oracle’s “trusted tech partner” status entails, but it’s definitively not a sale, and it’s unlikely Oracle is taking over any significant operations from the US TikTok offices.
The Messy TikTok Sale Is What Happens When Governments Get Involved in Social Media – Reason – 9/14/2020
Fans of the app (or just of freedom) hoped that President Donald Trump’s arbitrary ban on TikTok—part of a techlash-y executive order prohibiting American transactions with Tencent Holdings, the Chinese company behind messaging service WeChat, and ByteDance, the entity behind TikTok—could be at least partially circumvented by a U.S. company buying TikTok. The American tech companies Microsoft and Oracle were both in talks about snapping up the popular video platform.