tiktok

Multiple investor groups have now expressed interest in purchasing TikTok. Photo Credit: Sebastian Herrmann

Following reports of former Activision CEO Bobby Kotick’s interest in purchasing TikTok – with the investor group at hand potentially including OpenAI – others are looking to acquire the app as well.

These latest possible TikTok purchasers include former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who spelled out his goal of spearheading a buyout in a recent appearance on CNBC’s Squawk Box. Of course, the House yesterday overwhelmingly passed a bill that would compel ByteDance to sell (or shut down) TikTok in the U.S.

And while the measure’s Senate path seems less straightforward (with ByteDance and TikTok also prepping a legal challenge should the bill become law), third parties have already started taking preliminary steps to scoop up the service.

“I think the legislation should pass,” the Liberty Strategic Capital founder Mnuchin said, “and I think it should be sold. I understand the technology. It’s a great business, and I’m going to put together a group to buy TikTok. … I’ve spoken to a bunch of people [about buying TikTok].”

Likewise exploring a TikTok purchase is businessman Kevin O’Leary, who during a CBC News sit down touched upon the seldom-discussed considerations and uncertainty inherent in a bill and a forced sale of this nature.

“Are we going to be allowed to leave any remnant ownership with the Chinese at all, or are they requiring 100 percent that it be sold to an American entity?” the Montreal-born investor asked. “And that’s question number one.

“That’s very difficult, because if you think about who owns companies like Google, and who owns Meta, and who owns Microsoft – those are international owners. Sovereign wealth companies own those companies. Are you going to make a difference just for this one? And we need to know the answer to that. … We need some guidance on how we’re going to do this valuation.”

Expanding on these points, TikTok hasn’t hesitated to paint the appropriate legislation as an outright ban. The Chinese government owns a piece of ByteDance – a key component of longstanding content, data, and privacy concerns surrounding TikTok – and the possibility of a TikTok sale refusal has also been covered in the media.

“I really, Andrew, don’t think there’s any chance the Chinese government allows TikTok to be sold in the U.S.,” The Information founder and CEO Jessica Lessin said in a Squawk Box appearance of her own. “They’ve said previously they wouldn’t, and I don’t see that being any different. … The Chinese government – a), they don’t want Chinese algorithms in the hands of U.S. companies.”

Bringing the focus back to the present – that is, the bill’s path forward in Congress – the New York Post yesterday indicated that Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had opted against pinpointing a precise timetable for a Senate vote.

Roll Call today confirmed the bill’s expected “slower pace” in the Senate, where several lawmakers, on both sides of the aisle, reportedly intend to review the measure before deciding which way they’ll vote.

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