TikTok’s Beijing-based parent company, ByteDance, is reportedly close to selling the short-form video company’s Western operations to a U.S. company, with Oracle bidding against a joint effort from Walmart and Microsoft to pay a sales price said to range from $20 billion to $30 billion.
The news comes as TikTok’s recently appointed CEO, former Disney DTC chief Kevin Mayer, abruptly stepped down late Wednesday.
“The way TikTok has integrated e-commerce and advertising capabilities in other markets is a clear benefit to creators and users in those markets,” Walmart said in a statement sent to CNBC. “We believe a potential relationship with TikTok U.S. in partnership with Microsoft could add this key functionality and provide Walmart with an important way for us to reach and serve omnichannel customers as well as grow our third-party marketplace and advertising businesses. We are confident that a Walmart and Microsoft partnership would meet both the expectations of U.S. TikTok users while satisfying the concerns of U.S. government regulators.”
Oracle, meanwhile, is reportedly also in the running to acquire TikTok’s U.S., Canadian, Australian and New Zealand operations from Chinese parent company ByteDance. The Trump Administration is said to be favoring Oracle’s bid. Notably, Oracle founder Larry Ellison is a Trump supporter, even conducting a fundraiser for him at his home.
According to the Wall Street Journal, ByteDance’s U.S. investors, which include Sequoia Capital and General Atlantic, also favor Oracle, as they see the Silicon Valley company as their best bet to get a “piece of the action” from TikTok’s ongoing operations.
All of this activity has occurred after Trump declared TikTok, which has more than 100 million monthly active users, a domestic security threat. His executive order earlier this month mandates that the platform be sold to a U.S. company by Sept. 15 or be shut down.
This week, for example, ByteDance filed suit against the Trump Administration, pushing back on one of the executive orders banning transactions by U.S. companies with ByteDance by U.S. companies.
As companies wishing to buy TikTok face a deadline to submit bids, it’s still unclear if ByteDance actually plans to sell the company.
For his part, however, Mayer is out, just over two months after departing Disney to lead TikTok. Vanessa Pappas, the head of TikTok’s U.S. business, will run TikTok, the company said in an internal memo to employees.
“Since joining, I have been incredibly impressed with the team and the company. In recent weeks, as the political environment has sharply changed, I have done significant reflection on what the corporate structural changes will require, and what it means for the global role I signed up for,” Mayer said in a memo to staff Thursday.
“Against this backdrop, and as we expect to reach a resolution very soon, it is with a heavy heart that I wanted to let you all know that I have decided to leave the company,” Mayer said. “I want to be clear that this decision has nothing to do with the company, what I see in our future, or the believe I have in what we are building,” Mayer added.
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