Oracle’s founder and chief executive Larry Ellison is a friend of President Trump and the President has said he supported Oracle’s bid to buy TikTok.
TikTok features 15-second videos of users mostly lip syncing, dancing and performing comedic skits and the app’s popularity has soared during the COVID-19 pandemic with more than 2 billion downloads globally and an an estimated 1.6 million users in Australia.
Microsoft posted a statement on its website stating that ByteDance had let Microsoft know it would not be selling TikTok’s US operations to Microsoft.
“We are confident our proposal would have been good for TikTok’s users while protecting national security interests,” the statement said. “To do this, we would have made significant changes to ensure the service met the highest standards for security, privacy, online safety and combating disinformation.”
Microsoft said it “looked forward” to seeing how TikTok’s service evolved in these “important areas”.
Dr Belinda Barnet, senior lecturer in media at Swinburne University, said Microsoft was TikTok’s obvious purchaser and a sale to Oracle would be a strange outcome.
“Microsoft is quite right they have the deepest pockets and the most experience in privacy and security functionality,” she said. “My immediate thought is that Oracle has won because it has close ties to the Trump administration. It is a large company but it has nowhere near the might and power of Microsoft. It is also a completely new direction for the company.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has previously said there were no plans to ban TikTok in Australia after security agencies found the Chinese company did not pose serious national security concerns.