11_May_UK_Who is going to buy Bytedance_ Shedding light on rumors of who’s taking over_

The future of TikTok: Who’s Going to Buy ByteDance?

Leave a comment / / By Jena Hodgson

With a user base teetering over 170 million Americans TikTok is not just another social media app—it’s part of our daily social regimen. But beyond its viral dances and insane memes is a tangled web of ownership that has come under intense scrutiny in the last year.

The app’s connections to ByteDance, a Chinese tech firm, have set off alarm bells with rising political tensions and data privacy concerns in the United States. The House passed a bill in March 2024 to force ByteDance to sell TikTok to an American company or face a ban. The bill was approved by the Senate in April 2024 and already landed on President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

With the potential sale of TikTok on the horizon, users are asking one simple question: who’s going to save our beloved app? Let’s dive into the juicy details of its ownership and see who might end up owning TikTok.

Who owns ByteDance now?

So, is TikTok really a Chinese company? The answer isn’t so straightforward. ByteDance is based in Beijing which is why U.S. lawmakers frequently label it as “Chinese-owned,” but TikTok argues this is far from the truth

The ownership structure is clear– and shared. According to a report by CNN, 60% of ByteDance is owned by global institutional investors like Susquehanna International Group, Carlyle Group, and General Atlantic. Another 20% is held by employees, while founder Zhang Yiming owns the remaining slice. 

Though actual Chinese ownership may be minimal, the affiliation with China is enough to raise concern for the U.S. government. That’s another blog post.

Who’s got the bandwidth to buy TikTok?

A company with millions of users isn’t going to disappear into the sun over a court order. Someone’s going to acquire the site, and several high-profile investors and companies are already circling.

Former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin

Steven Mnuchin, the investment banker turned treasury secretary, is throwing his hat into the ring. He’s hinted at rallying a group of investors to buy TikTok, though he’s keeping the details close to his chest. Mnuchin believes TikTok should be in American hands but hasn’t spilled the beans on who his backers might be or what price tag they’re eyeing.


Rumble, the conservative-friendly video platform, has entered the chat. CEO Chris Pavlovski is talking about forming a consortium to acquire and operate TikTok in the U.S. Rumble’s got some heavyweight investors. Despite facing an SEC investigation (which concluded with no enforcement actions), Rumble seems ready to rumble for TikTok.

Former Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick

Bobby Kotick, fresh off his stint at Activision Blizzard (the company behind the popular video game Call of Duty), is reportedly eyeing TikTok. Kotick’s gaming industry chops could make him a serious contender, and he has reportedly discussed his interest with OpenAI CEO Sam Altman. 

Kevin O’Leary

“Shark Tank” star Kevin O’Leary isn’t shy about his intentions to acquire TikTok. He’s flat-out said that TikTok won’t get banned because he plans to buy it. O’Leary envisions a syndicate for the purchase and suggests keeping a 20% stake for Chinese investors while ensuring American control over the CEO, board, and servers. 

Oracle and Walmart

In 2020, Oracle and Walmart made a play for TikTok after former President Trump demanded the app divest its U.S. operations. Although that deal fell through, Oracle became TikTok’s partner in Project Texas, funneling American user data to Oracle-owned servers. With the new bill potentially forcing another sale, it’s anyone’s guess whether Oracle and Walmart will make another bid.


Microsoft, ever the strategic player, showed interest in TikTok during the previous acquisition attempt in late 2020. CEO Satya Nadella called TikTok an intriguing property. With past interest and a logical fit, Microsoft could easily re-enter the fray and become a key bidder.

Cut to the chase

ByteDance needs to sell TikTok to an American entity within nine months to avoid a U.S. ban now that the bill has been signed into law by President Biden. The stakes are high and the list of interested buyers reads like a who’s who of the business world. Get ready, because this corporate drama is just getting started–and the outcome could have serious implications for digital marketers worldwide.

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