ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronTitle ChevronEye IconIcon FacebookIcon LinkedinIcon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailPositive ArrowIcon PrintTitle ChevronIcon Twitter
China tech

Oracle takes lead in race for TikTok after Microsoft drops bid

Chinese video app has until Sept. 15 to sell US operations or be shut down

The U.S. sale of TikTok will have to clear the large hurdle set by China's restrictions against export of certain AI and algorithms.   © AP

HONG KONG/PALO ALTO, U.S. -- Microsoft has dropped its bid for TikTok, leaving rival Oracle in pole position in the race to strike a deal over the Chinese video streaming app, which has been ordered to sell its U.S. operations to an American company or face being shutdown.

"ByteDance let us know today they would not be selling TikTok's U.S. operations to Microsoft," the American technology giant said in a blog post on Sunday night in a reference to the Chinese parent of TikTok. "We are confident our proposal would have been good for TikTok's users, while protecting national security interests," the statement continued.

TikTok is approaching a critical moment. U.S. President Donald Trump last week refused to extend the Sept. 15 deadline for ByteDance to sell TikTok's American assets, citing national security grounds.

"It'll either be closed up or they'll sell it," Trump said. "There will be no extension of the TikTok deadline."

ByteDance has been involved in negotiations with bidders for months, and Microsoft's withdrawal leaves Oracle as the most promising bidder. However, Beijing's recent move to curb exports of artificial intelligence technology has cast doubt on the likelihood of a sale.

While the exact nature of a possible deal between Oracle and TikTok remains unclear, gaining access to the app's more than 100 million U.S. users could be a golden opportunity for the enterprise software giant. Oracle, which does not currently have any consumer-facing operations, is looking to broaden its client base by building up its cloud services and consumer-data businesses.

Trump has voiced his support for the California-based company's bid, calling Oracle "a great company." Larry Ellison, Oracle's co-founder and executive chairman, is one of the few outspoken Trump supporters in Silicon Valley. The tech billionaire hosted a fundraising event for the president earlier this year.

Microsoft did not elaborate on the reason behind ByteDance's rejection. Neither TikTok nor Bytedance responded to Nikkei Asian Review's request for comment. Oracle could not immediately be reached for comment.

TikTok, combined with its Chinese version, Douyin, is one of the world's most popular apps, with more than 2 billion global downloads as of April, according to app tracker Sensor Tower.

Oracle, based in Redwood Shores, California, does not currently have any consumer-facing business. The 43-year-old company is expanding from its database provider roots and attempting to build up the cloud service and consumer-data businesses.

Sponsored Content

About Sponsored Content This content was commissioned by Nikkei's Global Business Bureau.

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this monthThis is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia;
the most dynamic market in the world.

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia

Get trusted insights from experts within Asia itself.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 1 month for $0.99

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this month

This is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia; the most
dynamic market in the world
.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 3 months for $9

Offer ends October 31st

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers and subscribe

Your full access to Nikkei Asia has expired

You need a subscription to:

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers
NAR on print phone, device, and tablet media

Nikkei Asian Review, now known as Nikkei Asia, will be the voice of the Asian Century.

Celebrate our next chapter
Free access for everyone - Sep. 30

Find out more