ByteDance founder and CEO Yiming Zhang’s decision to drop his pursuit of a sale of TikTok’s US operations to Microsoft in favour of a partnership with Oracle was the culmination of weeks of pressure from China’s government and the Beijing-based firm’s investors, according to people familiar with the deliberations.
China’s opposition to a forced sale of TikTok, as well as concerns by major ByteDance backers such as Sequoia and General Atlantic over the financial hit of selling the popular short-video app in the US for less than what it is worth, led Zhang to opt for the sale of only a stake to Oracle, rather than an outright divestment, the sources said.
It is a risky strategy. President Donald Trump has made it clear he wants to see an outright sale of TikTok to a US technology company, amid concerns by national security officials that US user data could be passed on to China’s Communist Party government.
He has threatened to ban TikTok in the US as early as 20 September if ByteDance does not comply.