Oracle Is the Likely Winner of the Great TikTok Bake-Off

Oracle Is the Likely Winner of the Great TikTok Bake-Off
Photo: Justin Sullivan, Getty Images, Getty Images

It’s official: After a months-long race against time, Oracle, a very American and very Trump-friendly company, has beat out Microsoft and WalMart to as the likely winner of the US portion of TikTok, CNBC reported.

“Oracle confirms Secretary Mnuchin’s statement that it is part of the proposal submitted by ByteDance to the Treasury Department over the weekend in which Oracle will serve as the trusted technology provider,” the company posted in a brusque statement this morning.

Because of how this deal was initiated, the likely sale to Oracle will still need to pass through several administrative hoops. Chinese media also reported that TikTok parent company ByteDance may not sell Oracle its underlying technology — such as the algorithm that surfaces and recommends content within the app — in line with new Chinese export controls on technology. “The car can be sold, but not the engine,” a source privy to ByteDance’s boardroom discussions reportedly told the South China Morning Post.

As a result, the “sale” Trump demanded of TikTok is now being framed in the somewhat gentler terms reiterated by Oracle itself this morning, as not an owner, but as a “trusted technology provider.” What difference that will make in practical terms remains to be seen.

Shares of Oracle were paused for trading ahead of the company’s announcement.

We’ve reached out to the parties involved and update if more details become available.

Update 9/14/2020 12:47pm EST: Bloomberg reporter Shelly Banjo has tweeted that TikTok has confirmed that it submitted the “Oracle bid.” Alex Heath, reporter for The Information, also tweeted a text message statement from ByteDance, confirming that they have submitted a proposal which they “believe would resolve the Administration’s security concerns.”

Update 9/14/2020 1:16pm EST: TikTok responded to Gizmodo’s request for comment. Their statement, which matches that confirmed earlier by Heath, is pasted below in full:

“We can confirm that we’ve submitted a proposal to the Treasury Department which we believe would resolve the Administration’s security concerns. This proposal would enable us to continue supporting our community of 100 million people in the US who love TikTok for connection and entertainment, as well as the hundreds of thousands of small business owners and creators who rely upon TikTok to grow their livelihoods and build meaningful careers.”