Selling TikTok in the US is a pivotal moment for ByteDance – but a deal is easier said than done

Selling TikTok in the US is a pivotal moment for ByteDance – but a deal is easier said than done

  • TikTok is famous for its AI-powered recommendation system, which feeds curated content to users based on their interests
  • The US market is a bellwether for others, with user habits there followed in other countries

ByteDance has been forced into a corner by the Trump administration, which now says it must sell the US version of its global short video hit TikTok within 90 days if the app wants to stay in business – and there is much at stake.

Analysts say not only is the US market a bellwether for the Chinese internet company’s global ambitions, pulling off a sale is easier said than done due to a complex array of legal and technical obstacles.

“There is credible evidence that leads me to believe that ByteDance … might take action that threatens to impair the national security of the United States,” Trump said in the order announced on Friday.

Trump’s latest move followed an executive order he issued on August 6 that would prohibit certain transactions in the US with TikTok unless ByteDance divests it within 45 days. Trump applied a similar order to Tencent Holdings’ super-app WeChat, although the details remain unclear.Analysts said although the latest move gives ByteDance more time to sell TikTok, it also strengthens Trump’s legal stranglehold on the company.