(Bloomberg) — Oracle Corp. and Walmart Inc. plan an minority investment in TikTok Global, giving companies that have little experience in social media a stake in a fast growing music and video-sharing app that became the focal point of a trade standoff between the U.S. and China.
Oracle and Walmart together could end up with as much as 20% of the entity, purchased in a round of financing that would precede an initial public offering, the companies said Saturday. Sequoia Capital and General Altantic, current investors in TikTok parent ByteDance Ltd., could also pursue stakes in the fundraising round, a person with knowledge of the matter said. ByteDance will retain majority control.
ByteDance commenced a search for investors in TikTok’s U.S. operations after Trump proclaimed that TikTok was a threat to U.S. national security, and ordered the app be sold to an American business or shut down by Sept. 20. The president said Saturday that he gave his “blessing” to the “concept” of the deal, even though ByteDance will retain such a large stake.
For Oracle, the partnership fits with a plan to become a provider of a broad range of computing services delivered via remote server farms, rivaling leaders Amazon.com Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Alphabet Inc. The strategy, announced with fanfare half a decade ago, had mixed success. As of last year, Oracle had grabbed such a small share of the cloud computing and storage market that research firm Gartner Inc. didn’t even tabulate the figure. In 2018 Gartner classified Oracle as a “niche player.”
TikTok’s decision to pick Oracle was influenced by another company, Zoom Video Communications Inc., which recently moved some of its videoconferencing capacity to Oracle’s cloud business, Redwood City, California-based Oracle said Saturday in a statement.
Oracle Chairman Larry Ellison said in a statement that TikTok chose Oracle “because it’s much faster, more reliable, and more secure than the first generation technology currently offered by all the other major cloud providers.”
Walmart said that while terms aren’t final, it has tentatively agreed to buy 7.5% of TikTok Global and that it would provide services including payments, e-commerce and order fulfillment to the new company. Walmart Chief Executive Officer Doug McMillon will also serve as one of five board members of TikTok Global.
“This partnership will provide Walmart with an important way for us to expand our reach and serve omnichannel customers as well as grow our third-party marketplace, fulfillment and advertising businesses,” Bentonville, Arkansas-based Walmart said in a statement.
The move is part of a broader long-term play to bring more shoppers, advertisers and vendors into its camp as the lines between content and commerce continue to blur. The arrangement could also enhance its soon-to-launch delivery subscription service, making it a more credible threat to rival Amazon’s Prime offering. TikTok could become a platform to sell Walmart’s products, catapulting the 58-year-old Arkansas retailer into the emerging realm of “social commerce” against Facebook and its Instagram platform.
The new minority owners have pledged to create 25,000 jobs through the new company.
(Adds details on Walmart’s plans throughout)
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