Oracle enters race to purchase TikTok’s US business

The California-based company is working with a group of American investors, including General Atlantic and Sequoia Capital, according to the Financial Times

The logo of Chinese video app TikTok is seen on the side of the company's new office space at the C3 campus on August 11, 2020 in Culver City, in the westside of Los Angeles.  / AFP / Chris DELMAS
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Oracle is holding preliminary talks with ByteDance over the potential acquisition of TikTok's operations in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

The California-based company joins Microsoft and Twitter in the race to acquire the video-streaming platform.

Oracle is working with a group of US investors such as General Atlantic and Sequoia Capital, which already own a stake in the Chinese company, the Financial Times reported.

The talks come after President Donald Trump issued an executive order directing ByteDance to sell its US assets within 90 days.

The Trump administration cited national security concerns amid tension between Washington and Beijing.

“There is credible evidence that leads me to believe that ByteDance … might take action that threatens to impair the national security of the United States," Mr Trump said in the order.

The executive order directed ByteDance to sell all its interests and rights in any assets or property used to enable or support TikTok in the US.

It came after an August 6 order that banned businesses and US residents from transacting with the app after 45 days.

TikTok was launched in China in 2016 and released in the US in 2018 after ByteDance’s purchase of lip-synching app

The platform allows users to share video clips of up to 15 seconds and has become popular with young audiences around the world.

It has more than one billion users in 140 countries, including 100 million in the US.

On Monday, the company set up a website and a Twitter account to counter what it described as "rumours and misinformation about TikTok proliferating in Washington and in the media".

TikTok said 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," the company said.

The company said it was "shocked" by Friday's executive order, which it said "was issued without any due process".

"We will pursue all remedies available to us in order to ensure that the rule of law is not discarded and that our company and our users are treated fairly – if not by the administration, then by the US courts," the company said.

Oracle’s billionaire co-founder Larry Ellison is one of the leading Silicon Valley entrepreneurs to openly support Mr Trump.

In February, he held a fundraiser for Mr Trump at his property in Coachella Valley, California.

Oracle declined to comment when contacted by The National about a potential bid. TikTok was not immediately available for comment.

So far, Microsoft is the only company to confirm that it is in discussions with ByteDance to buy TikTok. Earlier this month, it said it was continuing negotiations with the company after a meeting between Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella and Mr Trump.

It is not clear whether Microsoft would buy TikTok's US, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand operations, or the entire business.

TiKTok's value could be about $50bn – 50 times its projected 2020 revenue of about $1bn, according to Reuters.

In comparison, competitor Snap, which owns the Snapchat platform, is currently valued at $32bn, or 16 times its revenue, according to Bloomberg data.

Analysts consider microblogging site Twitter a long-shot bidder, given that it is much smaller in size than Microsoft and Oracle and that it would find it hard to stump up the funds for the acquisition.