TikTok Could Actually Be Sold
Chinese tech giant ByteDance may be ready to give up its control of TikTok after all, with a new report saying the social networking app's sale may be finalized within the next couple of days.
A deal for TikTok's North American and Australian operations is expected to be announced "in the coming days. So far, Microsoft, Oracle, and "a third U.S. company have made bids on TikTok, noting that retail giant Walmart said it's teaming up with Microsoft for its bid. The report also said TikTok's U.S., Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand business are valued at up to $30 billion.
Walmart said in a statement that it believes TikTok's integration with advertising is a "clear benefit to creators and users in those markets" and offers an opportunity to bring a new spin to e-commerce.
"We believe a potential relationship with TikTok U.S. in partnership with Microsoft could add this key functionality and provide Walmart with an important way for us to reach and serve different types of customers as well as grow our third-party marketplace and advertising businesses," Walmart said in the statement.
Walmart had originally considered a deal with Google parent company Alphabet, but switched to Microsoft when it wasn't able to gain a majority stake in TikTok if it partnered with Alphabet.
The news comes after TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer resigned late last Wednesday, marking a sudden end to his three-month tenure helming the company after running Disney's streaming video business.
The video-focused social networking app has had a rocky past few months. The app has grown over the past year to more than 100 million users in the U.S. and more than 2 billion downloads around the world, making it a cultural phenomenon particularly among teenagers. Its short-video format has helped dance and comedy sketches go viral both on its service as well as on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
That popularity, though, has been blunted by announcements from a succession of U.S. government agencies, the military, Congress, and the White House warning that TikTok poses a national security risk, in part because its owner, ByteDance, is a Chinese company. The argument is that ByteDance, via TikTok, collects reams of user data and that this can be used by China's ruling Communist party against U.S. interests.
President Donald Trump said he intends to ban the app from the U.S. by early November unless it's purchased by an American company, touching off an odd acquisition process among the tech industry's largest non-social networking companies, particularly Microsoft.
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