Oracle appears to have come out on top as part of a bid to tether TikTok with an American company, making the app—a frequent target of President Donald Trump’s—linked to one of his biggest supporters in the tech industry.
Oracle’s Chairman Larry Ellison is one of the few people in Silicon Valley who have been outspoken in supporting Trump.
Late Sunday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Oracle would become TikTok’s “trusted tech partner” moving forward, and that the deal between ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns TikTok, and Oracle would not be an outright sale.
It’s unclear what exactly “trusted tech partner” specifically means and whether the deal will satisfy Trump’s imposed deadline for selling U.S. operations of TikTok to an American buyer. However, Ellison’s relationship with Trump may help the deal go through.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Monday that the government is reviewing Oracle’s proposal.
Trump signed an executive order in August that set TikTok on a path toward some sort of American corporate involvement. The order cited national security concerns over TikTok’s data privacy. China-based tech companies have a history of being forced to hand over data to the country’s government, leading to speculation TikTok would have to do the same.
The wildly popular app has long defended itself against such claims and speculation.
Microsoft appeared to be the front runner in any potential acquisition (and was exploring a joint bid with Walmart) but the tech giant said on Sunday that ByteDance told them it would not be selling the U.S. operations to it.
That left Oracle to “partner” with TikTok. And given that Trump ordered the sale and it’s going to a longtime fundraiser of his, it raises questions of how the process played out.
In February, Ellison hosted Trump at a campaign fundraising event in California. The event had $100,000 and $250,000 options for attendees that featured a golf outing and photos with the president, according to the Desert Sun.
That fundraising event prompted around 300 employees at Oracle to leave their desks in protest, Time reported.
In April, Ellison was named to a White House advisory board.
Given that level of support from Oracle’s chairman, it’s not surprising that Trump seemed enthusiastic about the enterprise software giant potentially buying TikTok.
In August—amid rumors of possible suitors for TikTik—Trump called Oracle a “great company” and said that he thought Oracle was “certainly somebody that could handle it.” The president also called Ellison a “tremendous guy.”
While the deal still needs to be hashed out, the “partner” aspect of it has some people critical over what it will actually accomplish.
“A deal where Oracle takes over hosting without source code and significant operational changes would not address any of the legitimate concerns about TikTok, and the White House accepting such a deal would demonstrate that this exercise was pure grift,” Alex Stamos, Facebook’s former security chief, tweeted.