The spinning wheel of frenzy regarding the sale of TikTok has perhaps shown the first signs of subsiding.
As per the directions of the Biden administration, the court filings by Justice Department lawyer Casen Ross have put on hold the litigation between the US government and TikTok.
The motions, as they were filed, give a strong indication that the caravan of efforts to pressure the sale of the popular video-sharing app TikTok to an American firm or face a ban in the U.S. under then-President Trump will finally be backed off in favour of a more “comprehensive approach”.
Even though President Biden is said to harbour some concerns with TikTok and the trade practices adopted by other Chinese tech companies, the White House is said to aiming to conduct a broader review of the Trump administration’s efforts to address potential security risks from Chinese tech companies.
Seeking to turn over a fresh, methodical leaf justifying any prohibitions which arise from the investigations, the Biden administration has put forth a number of his predecessor’s other national security nit-picks related to China under review. These include trade tariffs and delisting of some Chinese companies from U.S. stock markets. With the administration in the process of determining which Chinese matters take precedence in their attention, it is a signal that TikTok will no longer be of sole focus for the US government going forward.
As such, the agenda for the TikTok deal, driven primarily by then-President Donald Trump, has been met with increasing scepticism in the wake of successful legal challenges by ByteDance in response to the US government.
ByteDance, which scathingly termed the deal as “daylight robbery” has consistently maintained that there is a firewall between TikTok and its corporate owner in China. The parent company has always maintained the stance that none of the data belonging to US users is stored on Chinese servers, with safeguards for the data to only be accessed with the permission of American-based security officials.
As it were, it was in the wake of the national security threat allegations that Oracle had sought to double up with Walmart to strike out an acquisition deal with ByteDance to take over TikTok’s U.S. operations, as an acceptable solution to the then circumstances. Even as a final agreement never materialized, the discussions between the suitors and ByteDance for furthering the sale now appear to have stalled, more so with the court filings to pullback on TikTok’s scrutiny.
Now that it finally faces no threat of imminent shutdown on the US shores, it will come as a relief to ByteDance, which has managed to garner a sizeable chunk of the US market, and was understandably unwilling to easily part with its first app to soar to international acclaim.
That being said, the saga involving arguably the most prominent entertainment app and the political storm it got wound into, kicked off by the US top brass looks to have dragged on for what seems like an eternity.
The brouhaha started gained traction in September when the Trump administration was hell-bent on pushing TikTok to sell all or part of its business to US companies. Those warnings and deadlines were extended twice and lapsed amidst contradictions and a quest to wrest control.
It was then that the bigwigs like Microsoft, Walmart, Oracle, and possibly others thought to throw their hats in the ring to acquire the vogue TikTok’s US business. After all the drama, a purchase option led by Oracle and Walmart ended up being the best option for a possible sale.
This is not to say that Oracle, Walmart, and others could not be in the mix for a future possible deal. However, as the situation currently stands, that would all be subject to how the Biden administration decides to pursue options against TikTok, if any.
For the time being, we take a breather of sorts from the hoopla.
Stay tuned for more updates.