US President Donald Trump speaks before signing a trade agreement between the US and China during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on January 15, 2020.
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images
President Donald Trump said U.S. enterprise software giant Oracle is “a great company” when asked if if it would be a good buyer for TikTok.
His endorsement for Oracle, co-founded by billionaire Larry Ellison, comes after reports that the Californian tech firm is interested in buying TikTok’s North America, Australia and New Zealand businesses from Chinese parent company ByteDance.
Speaking at an event in Yuma, Arizona, Trump said: “Well, I think Oracle is a great company, and I think its owner is a tremendous guy. He’s a tremendous person. I think that Oracle would be certainly somebody that could handle it. Yeah. We gave them until September 15.”
It’s unclear how much Oracle is prepared to pay for TikTok but some of ByteDance’s investors value TikTok’s global business at $50 billion, according to Reuters.
The way TikTok is structured means the subsidiaries in New Zealand, Canada, and Australia report to the U.S. and that’s why they’re being included in the deal talks.
Oracle’s bid for TikTok also involves U.S. venture capital firms Sequoia Capital and General Atlantic, which are investors in ByteDance. The talks were confirmed by a CNBC source after they were first reported by the Financial Times.
Last week, Trump said the U.S. government will ban TikTok unless the app can be sold to an American organization within 90 days.
“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,” Trump said in an executive order. ByteDance denies the allegations.
TikTok might not seem like the most natural fit for Oracle but Abishur Prakash, a geopolitical futurist at a strategy consulting firm called Center for Innovating the Future, understands why the company is interested.
“By putting TikTok’s data on Oracle servers, Oracle may be able to build in-roads into new industries,” Prakash said.
“In the post-Covid world, every business is trying to reinvent themselves,” Prakash added. “And, within geopolitics of tech, there isn’t just risks, but also opportunities. Oracle may have its own ideas as to how it could use TikTok that it hasn’t revealed to the market yet.”
Oracle is competing with Microsoft, which emerged as the initial front runner in the race to acquire the fast-growing social media app.
Asked which company he’d rather see take ownership, Trump said: “I guess Microsoft wants it and so does Oracle, and probably so do other people, but they have to also make sure the United States is well compensated because we’re the ones making it possible. Very simple: We’re the ones making it possible.”
Trump added: “Our Treasury has to be very well compensated.”
Ellison threw a campaign fundraising event for Trump earlier this year and has expressed his support for the president.
ByteDance and Oracle are yet to deny the deal talks. When asked about them, a ByteDance spokesperson said: “We do not comment on rumors or speculation.” An Oracle spokesperson added: “This is not something that we can comment on.”