The saga around the sale of the US operations of ByteDance-owned short video platform TikTok continues to take twists and turns. The company has been at pains to find a suitable resolution after US President Donald Trump announced that the Chinese company would have to sell US operations of TikTok to an American company before September 15.
On Sunday, the Wall Street Journal reported that TikTok would not sell to would-be buyers Microsoft. Instead it was reported that Oracle, a database systems and software company based in California, had gained the upper hand in negotiations.
According to the Financial Times, the deal would see Oracle and ByteDance team up for a “technical partnership” agreement, instead of having to sell their US operations outright as was previously suggested. Within the scope of that partnership, Oracle want to address national security concerns raised by the White House, according to unnamed sources speaking to Financial Times.
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Microsoft released a statement on the matter on September 13, outlining how ByteDance eventually turned down their bid.
“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. 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.”
This late turnaround by ByteDance seems to be down to the company’s concern at selling source code for TikTok to another company, according to a report by South China Morning Post. “The technology team of TikTok in the US can develop a new algorithm,” an unnamed source told the Hong Kong-based newspaper after the Chinese government revised export rules concerning the sale of such technology to foreign companies at the end of August.
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While discussions with Oracle continue, it is unclear whether the Trump administration or the Chinese government will be appeased by the agreement before Trump’s deadline.
If the two sides do not come to an agreement, the US President has threatened to ban the short video app in the country as early as September 15.
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