You Can Buy The Car, But Not The Engine – TikTok Rejects Microsoft, Only To Work With Oracle As “Trusted Tech Partner”

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Sep 15 2020
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As Donald Trump’s September 20 deadline approaches for China-based ByteDance to sell its hugely popular social video app TikTok to American companies, a decision has been made. ByteDance won’t be selling its TikTok U.S. assets to Microsoft after all. Instead, it has chosen Oracle as its “business partner” or “trusted tech partner”, just to satisfy Trump’s national security concerns.


The partnership between TikTok and Oracle will not be considered as a sale. Instead, Oracle may take an undisclosed stake in the TikTok business in America. Sources told Reuters that as a technology partner, Oracle would manage TikTok’s U.S. user data – a brilliant strategy to maintain ByteDance’s ownership of TikTok but at the same time solve the problem related to user security.


However, according to China Global Television Network (CGTN), TikTok is not for sale at all, neither to Microsoft nor Oracle. Even if Oracle is ready to buy a stake in TikTok, the American company will be buying the app without its brains. “ByteDance will not give away its source code to any U.S. buyer, but TikTok’s technology team in the US can develop a new algorithm,” – says a source.

TikTok-Oracle - Business Partner - Trusted Tech Partner

Indeed, the engine or the algorithm is the reason why Microsoft, Oracle, WalMart, Twitter, Netflix and even Triller, a rival app, wanted to buy TikTok in the first place. Sources told the South China Morning Post (SCMP) – “The car can be sold, but not the engine.” Even if ByteDance wants to sell TikTok’s algorithm, it can’t due to direct involvement of Beijing.


In a dramatic move to level the playing field with Washington, Beijing has made some modifications to its export rules on Aug 29. Specially designed to disrupt the potential sale of TikTok to any American companies, the new rules say that a license or approval from the Chinese government is needed before companies can export their technologies.


The addition of 23 items to its restricted list, which include technologies such as personal information push services based on data analysis and AI (artificial intelligence) interactive interface technology, would at the very least delay the sale and make the deal tougher to conclude. ByteDance immediately said it would “strictly comply with” the Chinese regulations on technology exports.

TikTok - ByteDance Core Algorithm

When users open TikTok, the first thing they see is the “For You” page – an endless stream of videos uniquely tailored to each user. No two feeds are the same and it’s believed that this is the secret weapon that has made the app hugely popular. The engine, armed with the secret algorithm that powers the “For You” page, is the reason why TikTok has been downloaded more than 2 billion times.


For illustration purpose, the TikTok’s “For You” algorithm works like the Google search engine’s algorithm which dynamically determine which website or page on the Internet is the most relevant for a specific key word or key phrase and displays its first. Getting featured on “For You” page can either make or break a TikTok influencer’s video and potential career.


While the Trump administration has maintained that TikTok represents a national security threat because it could send U.S.’ data to China, TikTok repeatedly rubbished the claim. As a sign of protest, TikTok has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government over President Trump’s executive order, arguing that the ban prevents the company from due process, as guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment.

Trump Bans TikTok

On August 6, President Donald Trump issued an executive order to ban TikTok in 45 days, only to issue another executive order on August 14 giving ByteDance 90 days to divest its U.S. operations. But with the direct intervention from Beijing, sources said China prefers to see TikTok shut down in the United States than to see its secret recipe falls into the hand of the Americans.


A forced sale of TikTok – valued as high as US$50 billion – to an American company would make Beijing appear weak in the face of pressure from Washington. With the latest decision not to sell, but to partner with Oracle, it creates a win-win solution for both parties. Trump will get to brag about securing user data while China continues to keep its crown jewel.


The TikTok-Oracle partnership provides a way out for Trump not to offend 100-million American “Generation-Z” addicted to the app. Besides, Oracle’s co-founder Larry Ellison is a strong supporter of Trump, having hosted a fundraising event for Trump’s election campaign at one of his California homes earlier this year. The ball is in Trump’s court.

TikTok - China President Xi Jinping


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No engine not a problem at all!

Our airforce has jets without engines.

Or at least, there are engines – but far away in South America.

No Malaysian gomens ever had anyone intelligent in them.

But that’s another story…

Another day, another origami coffin on four crappy tyres – Oh! Until our very able – and intelligent Chinese uncles came and raised Proton from the almost-living dead!

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