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Trump backs Oracle’s potential TikTok takeover

TikTok has until mid-September to find a suitable US-based purchaser

Trump in the background of the TikTok splash screen

UPDATE: President Donald Trump has announced his support for Oracle’s reported plans to purchase TikTok’s US operations.

Speaking during an official visit to Yuma, Arizona, the president described Oracle as “a great company”, adding that it “would certainly be somebody that could handle" TikTok.

“I think its owner is a tremendous guy, a tremendous person,” said Trump, referring to Oracle chairman Larry Ellison, an avid supporter of the Trump administration who has held fundraising events for the president in the past.

The comments came just hours after it was revealed that Oracle was reportedly interested in acquiring the popular video-sharing platform. Oracle’s motivations behind the alleged bid are unclear as the company not expressed much interest in social media platforms in the past. TikTok’s significantly young user base seems also greatly at odds with Oracle’s usual demographic.

According to Fanbytes CEO and co-founder Timothy Armoo, some of the “obvious wins” for Oracle could be the access to immense amounts of TikTok users’ data, as well as “cloud solutions”.

Another possible scenario could be Oracle’s attempt to block Microsoft’s plans to acquire the app, based on comments made by Ellison to the San Francisco Chronicle in 2014: “I still think it’s possible to beat Microsoft, believe it or not, for us to be a more important company than Microsoft”.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin declined to comment about the reports, which were first published in The Financial Times, but told CNBC that any deal to acquire TikTok would protect the data of the app’s 100 million US users.

“We’re looking at all the different issues and I can assure that any deal that gets approved will make sure that American data is protected and that this becomes a US-based company,” said Mnuchin.

18/08/2020: Oracle is reportedly interested in acquiring TikTok’s US, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand operations. 

According to The Financial Times, Oracle has held preliminary talks with TikTok’s parent company ByteDance and is working with at least two US investors which already own a stake in the company - General Atlantic and Sequoia Capital.

Both Oracle and TikTok declined to comment on the reports, so the details and motivations for the reported bid are unclear.

A bid from Oracle would come as a direct challenge towards Microsoft’s plans to acquire the popular video-sharing app, which is facing a potential ban in the US over alleged links to the Chinese government.

TikTok has until mid-September to find a suitable US-based purchaser in order to avoid being banned in the US. Microsoft has been seen as the main contender since the beginning of the month when it confirmed that it was in discussions with ByteDance.

Microsoft vowed that the “new structure would build on the experience TikTok users currently love, while adding world-class security, privacy, and digital safety protections”.

Following the announcement, Twitter also threw its hat in the ring, reportedly promising to provide TikTok with more agency and less regulatory scrutiny than Microsoft.

However, in contrast to Microsoft, it's questionable Twitter would be able to afford to buy the app, as its market capitalisation is estimated to be worth around $29 billion (£22 billion), while ByteDance has been known to previously value TikTok at $50 billion (approximately £38 billion).

Oracle seems like a more realistic contender in the TikTok bidding race, with a market capitalisation of $168 billion (around £127 billion).

Meanwhile, Donald Trump, who has previously accused TikTok of being a risk to personal data and security, took his stance further by creating an official account on a US-based video-sharing platform Triller. The app aims to become a contender and even alternative to TikTok, which has around 100 million users in the US. 

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