Tiktok lives to do its renegade dance another day. muddled negotiations for the chinese-owned video app have produced a deal in which oracle and walmart take a minority stake in a spin-off called tiktok global. us president donald trump has agreed in concept. who really wins?
Any gain for us national security is modest. a us corporation will not take tik tok over. the promise of new partner oracle to ensure us data privacy is useful only if tiktoks 80 per cent owner bytedance was covertly sending information to china. if not, little changes. us data are already stored on domestic servers.
So much for american dealmaking prowess. tiktok global will only be majority-owned by us investors if you count their two-fifths stake in bytedance on top of the 20 per cent oracle and walmart plan to hold in tiktok. that gives us groups an economic interest of more than 50 per cent of tiktok without majority voting rights.
Oracle gets a new customer for its cloud business and walmart can expand ecommerce. but at a possible $60bn valuation of tiktok, the $7.5bn and $4.5bn price tags of their stakes are costly. tiktok faces a $5bn payment for mr trumps patriotic education fund.
Monetisation will require investment too. more than 50m americans use tiktok every day. but advertising sales are new and purchases of in-app gifts for creators are uncommon. douyin, the chinese version of tiktok, accounted for 85 per cent of $88m of in-app user spending last month, according to consultancy sensor tower. this is unlikely to change if kevin systrom becomes tiktoks boss. mr systrom was notoriously opposed to rapid commercialisation at instagram.
The clear winner in all this is bytedance. it has avoided a us ban while keeping control of tiktok and its famed algorithm. tiktoks mooted valuation could lift that of bytedance.the experience of the chinese group is an invitation to fellow chinese apps: come to america, upset the locals and bag a valuation upgrade.
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