Internet giants Google and Netflix (NFLX) - Get Netflix, Inc. Report have both said no to a potential acquisition of social media app TikTok’s U.S. operations, leaving the clock ticking for TikTok owner ByteDance on what to do ahead of a deadline to either sell itself or face a country-wide ban.
The Wall Street Journal reported that TikTok had recently been approached by content-streaming giant Netflix to acquire its U.S. arm, but did not show interest. That follows Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s confirmation that Google also has no plans to acquire TikTok.
That leaves TikTok’s Chinese-owner Bytedance’s clock ticking in terms of options ahead of U.S. President Donald Trump’s Aug. 6 executive order giving the popular video-sharing app 45 days to either sell its operations to a U.S. company or face a ban in the country.
That move by the Trump administration prompted the resignation of TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer, who said he was leaving TikTok just months after being named CEO because the "political environment has sharply changed."
Trump has called the Chinese-owned short-video app and messenger app WeChat "significant threats" to U.S. national security. TikTok has sued the Trump administration over the order, arguing it is not a national security threat and calling the order an abuse of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which can be invoked to ban activities that present an "an unusual and extraordinary threat."
For its part, TikTok has tried to solidify its stronghold in the U.S., promising to create 10,000 jobs over the next three years and kicking off a $200 million “Creators Fund” to support content creators who are seeking opportunities to foster a livelihood on the app.
Microsoft (MSFT) - Get Microsoft Corporation Report and Oracle (ORCL) - Get Oracle Corporation Report are currently the front-runners who have shown interest in buying TikTok. Twitter (TWTR) - Get Twitter, Inc. Report has also approached the company regarding a potential deal.
Meantime, government officials building an antitrust case against Google are investigating whether the company engages in a practice known as tying - making the sale of one product conditional on the purchase of another product.
While not illegal, Justice Department officials are reportedly looking into whether Google’s Network division, which sells and handles all of the company’s digital advertising, services, practices tying in a way that blocks out competitors and gives it an unfair advantage.