Oracle joins Microsoft and Twitter in bidding for TikTok

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Its owner, Larry Ellison, is the fifth richest person on the planet and a staunch supporter of President Trump.
New contender in the bid for the TikTok business . The Oracle software company, owned by Larry Ellison (the fifth richest man on the planet according to Forbes and a loyal supporter of Donald Trump) has entered the race to acquire the popular viral video application owned by the Chinese conglomerate Bytedance, according to the Financial Times newspaper . Last week, the president promised to close the company within 90 days unless it is acquired by a US company.

The technology company has had preliminary talks with ByteDance and was seriously considering buying its operations in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, according to sources cited by the British newspaper. Oracle would have partnered to undertake the operation with a group of US investors that already have a stake in ByteDance, including investment funds General Atlantic and Sequoia Capital.

Microsoft has been the leading candidate since it publicly announced earlier this month that it had held talks to explore a purchase of the app’s business in these three countries. And perhaps something else, because the company founded by Bill Gates appears to be seriously considering an offer to take over TikTok’s global operations in other geographic areas. He is interested, above all, in buying the European business and the Indian one. In the latter country, the video app has been banned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Twitter, in turn, has also had conversations with TikTok. Analysts, however, do not believe that the social network will be able to finance the deal.

The entry of Oracle, in this way, could condition the negotiations of Microsoft, so far the only firm to publicly report its negotiations. And they do so at a time when the White House has increased pressure on ByteDance by adding the 90-day ultimatum to a previous order that prohibits individuals and institutions in the United States from doing business with the company.

Trump support

E l eccentric Larry Ellison, 76, is one of the few Silicon Valley moguls who openly supports Donald Trump. Although he claims never to have given money for his campaigns, the billionaire has organized events to raise funds in favor of the Republican Party. His bombastic way of life (he is a compulsive collector of luxurious objects and properties: an island in Hawaii, the sixth largest yacht on the planet, mansions in different parts of the world, art or airlines), his personal life (he has married four Sometimes he has two children and is usually accompanied by women much younger than him), his difficult character (his is the phrase “ it is not enough that I succeed, everyone else must fail”) Or his aesthetic touches do not hide the main thing: he is one of the great names in American business history and a member of the holy trinity of American computing along with Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.

Oracle, his creation, is perhaps the most important Silicon Valley company of those that the ordinary citizen has not heard of, since it is focused on providing business services and has practically no investment in consumer applications or social media . The company, the world’s second-largest software maker , was founded four decades ago by Ellison himself and fellow engineers Ed Oates and Bob Miner. He was its CEO from the creation in 1977 until 2014, the year in which he became president of the board of directors and the main technological responsibility (CTO or chief technology officer). It currently has 138,000 employees and invoices about 40,000 million dollars a year (33,613 million euros at the current exchange rate).

Its value on the stock market amounts to about 140,000 million euros. But, more importantly, Oracle has a cash box of about $ 36 billion in cash or equivalents at the end of May, making it one of the few companies that could potentially afford the operation. Various analysts and bankers have estimated the value of TikTok’s businesses in the US between $ 20 billion and $ 50 billion, a wide range that reflects the complexity of separating TikTok’s American and global businesses.

Chinese history

TikTok, for its part, is one of the great Chinese business successes abroad. ByteDance bought the also Chinese Musical.ly in 2017 and merged it with its product, TikTok, creating an application with more than 100 million users in the US It was a key move: it was a similar app and very popular among American teenagers. “Although both were Chinese companies with a similar product, Musical.ly had been very well received abroad while Douyin dominated the domestic market,” Seongwen Chiang, professor of marketing , recently told EL PAÍSat the China-Europe Business School (CEIBS). TikTok and Douyin coexist in parallel. The first, only accessible abroad. The second, within China, to comply with the censorship policy imposed by the Communist Party. It is precisely this link that (apparently) worries the Trump Administration, above all about data security.

Behind Bytedance is Zhang Yiming, a 37-year-old engineer, the 10th richest man in the country and 61 richest man on the planet according to Forbes. ByteDance is a rare bird in the Chinese ecosystem because it does not have investments from its country’s big technology companies, Alibaba or Tencent, with which it has come to face on occasion in court. His first idea focused on using artificial intelligence to offer a personalized selection of news. The final takeoff came in 2016, with the launch of Douyin . Zhang had once again detected an opportunity, this time in the market for short videos, very popular with Chinese audiences. A year later, he bought Musical.ly for almost $ 1 billion., which as has already been clear, ended up merging with TikTok.

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