Billionaires Are Lining Up To Buy TikTok — Though ByteDance Might Shut It Down Rather Than Sell

who will buy TikTok
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who will buy TikTok
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Photo Credit: Solen Feyissa

Potential suitors are lining up to buy TikTok in America with multi-million-dollar bids, but ByteDance would prefer to just shut it down.

No sooner had President Biden put his signature to an act that will force Chinese tech company ByteDance to sell TikTok in the US than a handful of American tech tycoons started champing at the bit to offer their bids. But TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew said that should the company fail in winning its legal challenge to block the legislation, ByteDance would rather shut down its US operations than sell.

According to a report from Reuters, sources close to ByteDance reveal that TikTok’s algorithms are “deemed core” to the parent company’s overall operations, making a sale of the app which utilizes those algorithms to be highly unlikely. As TikTok only accounts for a small share of ByteDance’s global revenues and daily active users, the company would consider it less of a loss to shutter US operations altogether.

The company announced in a statement posted to Toutiao, a media platform it owns, that it had no intention of selling TikTok. CEO Shou Zi Chew reiterated that point, stating that the company expects to win a legal challenge to block the recently passed legislation.

But should the sale of TikTok become a reality, numerous potential suitors are already lined up to make a multi-million-dollar bid. These finance and tech figures are led by Steven Mnuchin, former US treasury secretary who has openly announced his intentions to purchase the app.

Other suitors include former Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, who is said to have discussed a proposal with OpenAI CEO Sam Altman. Further, speculation abounds that Pershing Square hedge fund chief Bill Ackman is gearing up to make a bid. Well known “Shark Tank” multi-millionaire Kevin O’Leary has also expressed interest, stating he would “like to buy” the app.

The biggest hurdle for any of these potential buyers will be to pass scrutiny by regulators like the FTC, which rules out any existing major social media company in the US. Despite having the resources to afford a potentially $100 billion price tag to purchase TikTok — and the tech expertise to build a new algorithm — companies like Apple and Meta are already under regulatory scrutiny.

“Every single one of those companies is under current antitrust actions,” said Joel Thayer, principal at consulting and antitrust firm Thayer PLLC, in a statement to The Post. “It would be next to impossible for a company already under antitrust scrutiny to buy a company that would give them more power and market share.”

ByteDance has less than a year to divest TikTok or face the app being banned in the United States.