Watch: Mnuchin Says He Wants To Buy TikTok

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by Tyler Durden
Thursday, Mar 14, 2024 - 02:00 PM

Following Wednesday's passage of a bill in the House that would force TikTok to be "fully divested" from Chinese-owned parent company ByteDance, former Trump Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Thursday that he's organizing a group to buy the social media app.

"I think the legislation should pass and I think it should be sold," Mnuchin told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Thursday. "It’s a great business and I’m going to put together a group to buy TikTok," he added.

According to CNBC, there is common ground between Mnuchin's Liberty Strategic Capital and ByteDance - as Masa Son's SoftBank Vision Fund invested in ByteDance in 2018, and is also a limited partner in Liberty Strategic.

The bill, which passed overwhelmingly in the House with bipartisan support, next heads to the Senate - which we imagine will pass it and send it to President Joe Biden's desk. Biden has indicated that he will sign it.

"This should be owned by U.S. businesses. There’s no way that the Chinese would ever let a U.S. company own something like this in China," Mnuchin said.

According to TikTok, around 170 million Americans use the app, which lawmakers say gives the Chinese government access and influence over the US by delivering tailored content to users with an algorithm that was developed in China (as opposed to every other social media company doing the same thing?).

Major tech investors, including Peter Thiel, Vinod Khosla and Keith Rabois, have publicly or privately decried the social media platform as a pernicious influence.

Still, it remains unclear if Chinese government would permit ByteDance to sell TikTok to a U.S. buyer. TikTok has lobbied furiously against the bill, including a concerted pitch to its user base and through videos on its platform.

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew has implied that a sale is not an option. China foreign minstry spokesperson Wang Wenbin described the bipartisan push as indicative of “robber’s logic” towards TikTok, The Financial Times reported Thursday. -CNBC

In 2023, ByteDance was valued at $220 billion, according to PitchBook.

Mnuchin did not elaborate on who the other investors would be in a potential deal, however there are other interested buyers. On Sunday, the WSJ reported that Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick was shopping a potential deal to potential partners.


Trojan Horse

Prior to Wednesday's vote, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) took to the floor to rail against the bill, saying that "there's some of us who feel that - intentionally, or unintentionally, this legislation to ban TikTok is actually a trojan horse that would allow vast government overreach.

"Some of us are concerned that there are First Amendment implications here. Americans have the right to view information, and don't need to be protected by the government from information."