Oracle reportedly beat Microsoft in the race to buy US TikTok services before Trump executives did well in its threat to block the popular video sharing app. On September 13, the Wall Street Journal reported that the company’s software behemoth had reached an agreement with the app’s parent company, ByteDance.
But the dust has long been unresolved: Companies have made little publicity about the deal, and it is unclear whether the terms they negotiated could satisfy competing regulators in Washington and Beijing. Many basic questions about the fate of TikTok remain unanswered.
Did Oracle buy TikTok?Probably not. The Wall Street Journal reported that Oracle would become TikTok’s “trusted technical partner” in the US, shortly after Microsoft admitted to losing its job of buying the app. But U.S. stores and Chinese state media say the partnership will halt direct sales.
“Trusted tech partner” is not a global technical name for integration and acquisition; instead, it appears to have been designed to address the natural mistrust of Trump’s administration in China, which has focused on real concerns about Beijing’s intriguing surveillance, which has sparked a riot over the sale of TikTok.
How will the TikTok-Oracle relationship work?Neither knows. Chinese media have reported emphatically that ByteDance will not change its desired algorithms to any US buyer, subject to Beijing’s new restrictions on technology export. (Algorithms are considered to be the company’s most valuable asset.) Instead, CNN reported that ByteDance could create an American coordinator to manage US operations, giving Oracle a stake.
Whatever the companies come into contact with, the Wall Street Journal reported that some of the existing US TikTok investors, including Sequoia Capital and General Atlantic, will also end up on the pole. The newspaper also reported that Walmart, which had been trying to get pigs back at Microsoft’s TikTok, is now pushing for an Oracle deal.
Will Trump accept the TikTok-Oracle deal?He may not. The deal appears to be a failure in his quest for full sale – but the respected U.S. president is known to have changed his mind and may decide to accept it and seek victory as the November election approaches. Oracle chairman Larry Ellison raised money for the re-election campaign for Donald Trump, and Trump said he would favor the TikTok-Oracle deal.
Finance Secretary Steven Mnuchin and the US Foreign Finance Committee reviewed the terms of the agreement making recommendations on the week of September 14.
Will TikTok change if sales pass?Under Oracle’s view, it’s impossible. In a statement, Microsoft said “it would make significant changes to ensure that the service meets the highest standards of security, privacy, online security, and to combat false information” – to accommodate the major changes required to appease US regulators.
However, ByteDance rejected Microsoft’s offer on September 13. Instead, Oracle, a company that has almost no knowledge of consumer-oriented technology, will be involved in hosting a version of TikTok that may be very different from what users see outside of the US, if the agreement is approved.
When will we find out if TikTok is banned in the US?Whenever Donald Trump feels that way. The president first set a September 15 deadline for TikTok to be sold to a “American” company, and then issued a ruling on August 6 stating that the deadline would actually be September. 20, then issued another order setting a deadline on November 12. He may also change his mind.
It is not yet clear how the president will shut down the app, as he has no power to order internet providers to block TikTok’s web traffic (as did Indian authorities in June). Instead, the executive branch could rewrite the existing rules in a way that would allow Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their app stores. TikTok has already filed a lawsuit against the president’s right to restrict access to Americans for this application.