Comment In a business dance oddly reminiscent of reality TV twists and turns, it appears an offer by Oracle to handle TikTok in the US may have tipped the scales and tentatively gained White House approval.
For several weeks, speculation has been rife over who would win the TikTok challenge, with one contender after another dropping out (see ya, Microsoft). Each episode has been accompanied by breathless sideline commentary from the biggest names in business, government, and fashion.
But a day after this reality show’s insiders let it be known that the president of the network himself, Donald Trump, was poised to give approval to Oracle to take care of the TikTok problem, a last-minute upset: there were still national security concerns.
In the show’s apparent finale, and as some observers predicted from the beginning, red-blooded all-American hero Oracle has offered, as a trusted cloud provider, to host the Chinese app’s US user data and traffic, keeping the information in a US jurisdiction. And the middleware giant will, according to Bloomberg, review the source code for the phone app, which, um, lets people post 15 seconds of video, for any backdoors and other weird stuff.
And Oracle will create a board, whose members are approved by the US government, overseeing TikTok US, with all board meetings opening with a full-throated rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. Ariana Grande is expected to open the first meeting [are you sure about this? She’s probably booked up – ed.]
And as if that weren’t enough, the show is guaranteed to be a ratings topper because Oracle said it expected to create 25,000 TikTok content-moderator jobs as part of the deal. Which is absolutely going to happen, no doubt about it.
If all of this addresses those national security concerns, and Trump OKs the deal, Uncle Sam can thus stop series-enemy China from getting its hands on user data that obviously belongs only to Facebook.
Just so much fun
This exciting diversion from the United States’ 1,000-plus daily deaths from COVID-19 came after several Republican senators briefly stole the limelight after “sending a letter” to the White House expressing concerns that it wasn’t clear what role Oracle would play with TikTok, and noting that they “remain opposed to any deal that would allow China-based or controlled entities to retain, control or modify the code or algorithms that operate any US-based version of TikTok.”
It was just one more twist in an incredible story that pulled in celebrities, such as White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, who said it was in a “deep review process” of the proposed deal and that the President Himself had told him that “security and ownership” were important.
That came after stunning press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the White House would make a decision “in short order.” She told a gaggle of excited reporters: “I don’t want to get ahead of the President but obviously we care deeply about protecting the data and security of American citizens.”
All that’s left now is for Trump himself – who, it should be noted, will give Americans the opportunity to vote for him in just a few months – to approve the deal, whatever it ends up being. Trump teased eager viewers at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon and, ever the businessman, suggested that the US government itself get a cut of the deal.
“I said I want a cut of the money to the US government because we made the deal possible. And they said you can’t do that. And I said that by approving the deal we’re making the deal valuable. And they’d never heard of that. Can you believe that?” the actual president of the United States actually said in public.
Trump added he wasn’t thrilled that TikTok owner ByteDance may end up retaining a majority stake in the US side of the app, though it wasn’t a deal breaker – Oracle is expected to take some kind of minority stake in the biz if it ends up handling the software’s backend for stateside users. Trump will receive a report on the proposed agreement Thursday morning, and decide whether Oracle is hired or fired. ®