Breakout social media platform TikTok is in the middle of a bidding war after President Donald Trump said he is banning U.S. transactions on TikTok starting on Sept. 20 unless Chinese parent company ByteDance finds an American buyer for the company by that date. A TikTok sale is reportedly imminent at a price tag reportedly in the $30 billion range.
The Bidders: TikTok has two main interested parties offering to buy the company. The first party consists of Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT) and Walmart Inc (NYSE: WMT). Microsoft is no stranger to large social media buyouts. It acquired a popular professional social media platform LinkedIn for $26.2 billion back in 2016.
The other major bidder is Oracle Corporation (NYSE: ORCL), which is reportedly teaming with venture capital firms such as General Atlantic and Sequoia to put together its offer. Oracle would presumably use TikTok to expand its cloud business and potentially even establish a large-scale advertising business.
The Valuation: Investors won’t know TikTok’s true valuation until the deal is official and the details of the winning bid are announced. However, ByteDance is seeking $30 billion, according to the New York Times.
Assuming the $30 billion valuation is in the ballpark of the ultimate buyout price, it would make TikTok users among the most valuable social media users in the world.
A $30 billion valuation equates to roughly $259 per user, according to Bank of America analyst Justin Post. That valuation per user is slightly below Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) at $293 per user. However, it’s significantly above Snap Inc (NYSE: SNAP) at $86/user, Twitter Inc (NYSE: TWTR) at $74/user and Pinterest Inc (NYSE: PINS) at $51/user, according to Post.
“On a per unit of time basis, a $30bn valuation would represent $3.29 per total daily minute of time, roughly in the middle of their peer group at $2.68-$5.32,” Post wrote in a note.
What’s Next? Even if the valuation is reasonable, a TikTok sale is far from a done deal. On Monday, ByteDance filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government.
Post said the U.S. government would likely approve a sale to either major bidder group, but investors should be prepared for potential “pushback” from the Chinese government, which has compared the forced sale to intellectual property theft.
Benzinga’s Take: ByteDance and China may drag their heels on a potential sale of TikTok in an attempt to wait and see how things share out in the November U.S. presidential election. Cracking down on China has been one of the centerpieces of Trump’s administration, but ByteDance may be hopeful it can negotiate some kind of compromise of Democratic nominee Joe Biden takes over the White House.
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