TikTok parent company ByteDance is warning it may have to shut down the short-video app’s US operations if it can’t find a buyer by mid-September.
President Donald Trump issued an executive order on August 6 that will effectively ban the app in the United States from September 20, unless ByteDance sells it.
Microsoft and Walmart have already expressed interest in a joint purchase; however, if no deal is made, the developer has told engineers that plans will need to be in place to shut the app down. TikTok has already instated a hiring freeze in the US due to the uncertainty.
ByteDance has launched legal action against the order, and in a statement, a TikTok spokesperson said the company is optimistic about finding a buyer.
“We are confident that we will reach a resolution that ensures TikTok is here for the long run for the millions of Americans who come to the platform for entertainment, self-expression, and connection.
“As any responsible company would do, we are simultaneously developing plans to try to ensure that our US employees continue to get paid in any outcome.”
Any deal would have to be approved by both the US and Chinese governments, and Beijing has added several AI technologies used by the app – including speech recognition, text recognition, and data analysis for personalised content recommendations – to an export control list, meaning ByteDance would need to obtain government approval to sell TikTok overseas.
Oracle, chaired by Trump supporter Larry Ellison, has launched a rival bid for TikTok in conjunction with a number of ByteDance investors.