ByteDance has been ordered by President Donald Trump to divest TikTok in the US. This comes amid security concerns over the personal data it handles. Microsoft Corp and Oracle Corp are among US companies vying to acquire TikTok’s assets, which claims about 100 million monthly active users in the US. ByteDance is expected to pick a bidder to enter into exclusive talks as early as Friday, according to the sources.
Trump issued an executive order on August 6 that would ban transactions with TikTok and its Chinese parent in 45 days. While TikTok has filed a lawsuit challenging the order, it is preparing for the possibility of shutting down. This will happen if it doesn’t reach a deal with an acquirer by mid-September, the sources said. It hopes that any shutdown would be temporary, the sources added.
Both the US and Chinese governments have to greenlight the sale. The shutdown contingencies are also aimed at preparing TikTok’s global operations for the possibility that one of the two countries blocks any deal, the sources said.
What’s in it for the employees
ByteDance told TikTok engineers in a memo this week to draw up plans for shutting down the app in the US, the sources said.
ByteDance is also making separate plans for to compensate TikTok’s US employees in the event of a shutdown. TikTok has already implemented a hiring freeze in the US for most open positions because of the uncertainty. This brings in only 5 percent of the staff it planned to recruit, according to the source.
ByteDance views the shutdown preparations as a back-up plan. It is working towards a deal that would keep TikTok operating in the US without interruption, the sources said.
The sources requested anonymity as the shutdown preparations are confidential.
‘Here for the long run’“We are confident that we will reach a resolution that ensures TikTok is here for the long run. Millions of Americans come to the platform for entertainment, self-expression, and connection.” A TikTok spokesman said in a statement. “As any responsible company would do, we are simultaneously developing plans to try to ensure that our US employees continue to get paid in any outcome.”
ByteDance did not immediately respond to a request by Reuters for comment.
TikTok is popular for its anodyne videos of people dancing that go viral among teenagers. US officials expressed concerns that TikTokcould pass on Users information to the Chinese government. Cutting off access for TikTok’s US users could deprive “influencers” who have built large followings on the app from income they receive from advertisers for promoting products and services.
ByteDance has been in talks to sell TikTok’s North American, Australian and New Zealand operations. This could be worth $25-30bn.
Walmart Inc said on Thursday it was joining Microsoft in its bid for TikTok’s US assets. Revealing its plans hours after the app’s recently named chief executive, Kevin Mayer said he would step down.
Oracle, whose Chairman Larry Ellison is one of the technology world’s few supporters of Trump, has partnered with some of ByteDance’s investors. These include General Atlantic and Sequoia, on its bid for the TikTok assets.
India has also banned TikTok. In the meantime, the company is planning an aggressive expansion across Southeast Asia. It is testing ‘creator’ marketplaces across the region. Championing influencers, and negotiating data deals with telecoms firms to keep a lid on consumers’ smartphone bills, according to the sources.
It is chasing small to medium-sized businesses as advertisers. Nearly nine out of every 10 firms in Southeast Asia are classified as small. These are complete with how-to-advertise seminars, millions of dollars in advertising credits, and a self-service platform for businesses to make their own ads.
Please use the button below to contribute to Newslex Point, Inc. using a credit card or via PayPal.