Brief - The Hustle

Will the US force a sale of TikTok again?

Written by Trung T. Phan | Aug 18, 2021 7:06:43 AM

Nearly a year ago, TikTok was tied up in an operatic corporate battle.

Over security concerns, the Trump administration was forcing a sale of the short video app from its Chinese owner (ByteDance) to the very unlikely American duo of Oracle and Walmart.

The controversy eventually went away…

… and TikTok ended the year with a huge milestone: It was the most downloaded app in 2020, besting Zucky McHarvard’s Facebook.

TikTok may be back in the hot seat, though.

According to a report from The Information, the Chinese government quietly took a 1% stake in ByteDance, which also owns popular Chinese apps Douyin and Toutiao. The government also holds 1 of 3 seats on its board of directors.

China is reining in its tech sector

  • Fintech giant Ant Group had to pull its IPO last year
  • China’s Uber (Didi) was taken out of app stores following its IPO
  • Alibaba paid a $2.75B fine for anti-monopoly violations
  • China’s tutoring industry is no longer allowed to be for-profit
  • ByteDance’s CEO stepped down in May, presumably to avoid regulator heat

The question over who really runs TikTok — aside from these DIY chefs and dancing teens — looks certain to pop up again.