Sale of TikTok’s US Operations Shelved as Company Waits for Biden Administration Response

By Thomas Price Tuesday, February 16, 2021

After a year of heavy talks, harsh regulatory threats, and soft agreements, wildly popular social media and short-form content app TikTok will not be selling its US operations to tech company Oracle and retail company Walmart. Parent company ByteDance has shelved the proposed business deal after the Biden administration put a pause on the lawsuit between the Justice Department and social media app that had begun under former President Donald Trump. The future of TikTok negotiations or any sale at all appears to be in jeopardy unless further action is taken.

TikTok app on iPhone next to headphones.

ByteDance Walking Away From Oracle Business Deal

Following strong concerns of data collection and threats of an outright ban of TikTok in the United States (US) from the Trump administration, parent company of the app, ByteDance, had come to an agreement with Oracle and Walmart to sell the US operations of the app. This TikTok deal has fallen by the wayside as the threat of ban receded under the newly appointed Biden administration. In fact, according to a report from the South China Morning Post, the company has walked away from the deal entirely, with no plans to proceed further.

Without the immediate threat of ban and the immense pressure that former President Trump had put on the company to sell the US portion of their business, ByteDance felt that no deal was needed any longer, especially while President Biden focuses more heavily on COVID-19 response in his early days in office.

Another speculative reason as to why the deal has fallen through so quickly was the company’s hopes that the deal with Oracle would have been a strong access point to former President Trump himself due to the support Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison had shown him.

Future of Business in the US for TikTok

While much of what happens moving forward is still unclear, it appears that ByteDance is working toward a set operations plan for continuing business in the US without selling to American companies. In the meantime, TikTok has once again become a major attraction to many businesses looking for effective advertisement. Now that the threat of a ban in the US seems to be null, businesses of all kinds have flocked back to the app, spending millions of dollars in the process. In fact, over the course of 2020, advertising on the app in the US grew by an impressive 500%. Since the end of last year, several major companies have signed up to advertise on the app including names like McDonald’s, Kate Spade, Bose, and Chobani.

When asked for reasoning behind ByteDance walking away from the business deal, the unnamed source behind the report said, “The deal was mainly designed to entertain demands from the Trump administration, but Trump is gone, and the raison d’être of the deal is gone with him,” also adding that, “ByteDance can’t be seen as kneeling before the US government. It can’t set a bad example for other Chinese companies.”

About the Author

Headshot of Thomas Price

Tom Price is a writer focusing on entertainment and sports features. He has a degree from NYU in English with a minor in Creative Writing. He has been previously published for Washington Square News, Dignitas, CBR, and Numbers on the Boards.

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