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Trump raises concerns over latest TikTok deal

Oracle may have struck a deal on paper, but the TikTok dating game is far from over

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Photo (c) Anatoliy Sizov - Getty Images
Oracle’s bid to buy TikTok has caught the attention of President Donald Trump. On Tuesday, he told reporters he’s not exactly itching to sign off on the deal quite yet.

What might be concerning to Trump is the way Oracle and TikTok parent company ByteDance framed the arrangement. In confirming its role in the deal, Oracle said it would be the “trusted technology provider.”

It must be “100 percent as far as national security is concerned,” Trump said, adding that he hasn’t received the complete breakdown of how the deal would work. However, he expects it to be on his desk Thursday morning. 

Political tensions with China

Trump’s posture adds a layer of complexity because the deal could go a long way towards remedying some of the political squabbling between the U.S. and China. Those tensions hit the roof when Trump threatened to ban the TikTok app or, at a minimum, have its U.S. operations transferred to a U.S. company. 

Trump also said the U.S. had been considering the possibility of accepting a payment as part of any deal. “Amazingly I find that you’re not allowed to do that,” Trump said, referring to the idea of receiving “key money” for brokering a deal, which he proposed last month

“I said, ‘What kind of a thing is this?’ If they’re willing to make big payments to the government, they’re not allowed because there’s no way of doing that from a -- there’s no legal path to do that.” 

The TikTok dating game

Ever since Trump demanded that ByteDance spin off TikTok to an American company, the dating game has been at a fevered pitch. First there was Microsoft, which thought TikTok might be a social media weapon against Facebook and Instagram. Then, WalMart decided it would get into the bidding war as one of Microsoft’s partners.

In the middle of it all, TikTok was accused of implementing a tracking device in Google Android users’ devices.

But, in the end, it was Oracle who came out on top -- at least for now. While it may not seem like a natural product fit, Oracle has become extremely rich by expanding its portfolio in the last 10 years. First, it bought Sun, which made Oracle a first-tier seller of servers for data centers. Then it snatched up Micros, a company that has the lion’s share of point-of-sale retail equipment. The company has also managed to keep its ties to Capitol Hill. 

“Oracle maintains ties to the U.S. government. CEO Safra Catz was part of Trump’s transition team, and Ellison hosted a fundraising event for Trump’s election campaign at one of his California homes earlier this year,” reported CNBC’s Jordan Novet. “It also has ties with Democrats: Leon Panetta, a former director of the CIA and secretary of the Defense Department under President Barack Obama, is on Oracle’s board.”

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