Oracle Corp., the Redwood City, Calif.-based software and technology giant, has confirmed that it has been selected by ByteDance to be the “trusted technology provider” that will take over Chinese-based TikTok's U.S. operations.
Oracle bested a bid by Microsoft Corp. for TikTok, a popular video-sharing app that President Donald Trump has threatened to ban in the United States over allegations that it could share Americans' personal information with the Chinese government. He signed an executive order to do so unless ByteDance reached agreement to sell TikTok's U.S. arm to an American firm in the next several weeks. However, it's unclear if making Oracle a "trusted technology partner" for the operation means ByteDance is selling TikTok's U.S. arm or not.
But in its blog on Sunday, Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft wrote that ByteDance had given it a heads-up about Oracle's winning bid. “We are confident our proposal would have been good for TikTok’s users while protecting national security interests, “ Microsoft said. “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.”
Still, China could still deep-six TikTok’s U.S. operations. Reuters sources say government officials don’t want to look weak in the face of Trump’s demand and would rather the app be banned in America than be sold to an American firm on the U.S. president's terms.
Beijing has said it opposes Trump’s executive orders and on Aug. 28 moved to give itself a say in the process, revising a list of technologies that will need Chinese government approval before they are exported. Experts said TikTok’s recommendation algorithm would fall under this list.
The Atlantic has its own take on the deal. “Eventually, inevitably, TikTok will fall from grace, if not by executive ban then by a more ordinary acquisition, or natural decline, or replacement by another, cooler option,” The Atlantic wrote in August. “When it does, the addicts and influencers attached to it today will invest all that effort in someone else’s corporate platform, just as the Viners who vanished when Twitter shut down that service did, or the YouTubers who were demonetized, or the Tumblrers who were banned.”