Oracle has emerged as a rival to Microsoft to buy controversial social media platform TikTok, according to reports. The software giant wants to buy the US operations of TikTok, following an order from president Trump for the Chinese owned platform to sell off its US arm within 90 days because of national security concerns.
Microsoft is already working on a partial takeover of US operations – which have been valued at over $US 20 billion. But, as first reported by the Financial Times, Oracle has recently met with ByteDance, TikTok’s Chinese parent company, and is working with venture capital firms including some of the app’s existing investors on a rival bid.
Success would reportedly give Oracle control of TikTok operations in the US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. Neither Oracle or Microsoft are bidding for the entire business of TikTok, which lets users post short video clips, but instead want to buy subsections of the operations in english speaking countries.
Microsoft had been the favourite to buy the US business, valued by analysts at anything between $20bn and $50bn, following an order by Trump for TikTok to divest its ownership in US operations of the app. There are growing privacy and security concerns around the app, which is now banned by the US military and coming under scrutiny by Australian lawmakers.
Given Trump’s interest in the sale, including a suggestion that the US should get a cut of the proceeds, Oracle may have some advantages. Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison, America’s fifth richest man, is a supporter of Donald Trump, having thrown fundraising events and publicly endorsed the president.
“I support him and want him to do well,” Ellison told Forbes in April.
TikTok has continued to deny it poses a security threat to western nations and insists it has strict data controls and has not surrendered any user data to the Chinese government. Earlier this week the company launched a new website to combat the allegations.
“With rumours and misinformation about TikTok proliferating in Washington and in the media, let us set the record straight,” the company said.
“TikTok is not available in China. Its US user data is stored in Virginia with a backup 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. Any insinuation to the contrary is unfounded and blatantly false.”