Uncertainty Over TikTok's Future as U.S. Sale Deadline Looms

Microsoft rejected, Oracle sole bidder . . . 

Microsoft Corp. announced yesterday that its offer to buy TikTok's U.S. operations was rejected by the video-sharing app's Beijing-based parent company ByteDance. Oracle, now the sole bidder, is poised to ink a deal with ByteDance as a "trusted technology partner." U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that technical discussions and a national security review would be carried out "with Oracle over the next few days" as the de facto deadline for approving a deal is September 20. Neither ByteDance nor Oracle, however, has disclosed further details of the bid, and a final decision is yet to be made.

TikTok at the centre of US-China tech spat . . .

The Chinese-developed short video app, which has surged in popularity among U.S. youth over the past year, remains at the centre of current U.S.-China tech tensions. Citing national security concerns, President Donald Trump signed two executive orders in early August banning ByteDance from making any transactions with U.S. companies after September 20 and forcing the company to sell its U.S. operations (i.e. TikTok) to a U.S. buyer or face closure by November 12. Chinese authorities have denounced the restrictions and forced sale as a "coerced transaction by [the U.S.] government." Further complicating matters, Oracle's chair and co-founder Larry Ellison is one of the industry's few Trump supporters. Oracle has also been unable to successfully gain a foothold in the Chinese market, upping the ante for making a TikTok deal.

Which countries would a deal encompass?

When bids to acquire TikTok's overseas operations were first announced, Canada, Australia and New Zealand were also included in the package. It is now unclear whether TikTok's Canadian operations will still be part of a final deal – if there is one. The app has gained popularity across Canada, including by groups lobbying the federal government.