Oracle shares surged 10 percent in premarket trading on Monday following reports that the computer software firm had won a bidding war to take over TikTok’s US operations.
The purported deal came a week before President Donald Trump promised to follow through with his plan to ban the Chinese-owned app in the US unless its parent company ByteDance handed over operations to an American firm.
A person familiar with the matter told the Wall Street Journal that Oracle will take over as TikTok’s ‘trusted tech partner’ in the US. They added it is unlikely to be an outright sale.
Last month, Trump threw his support behind Oracle buying TikTok, calling it a ‘great company’ and saying: ‘I think that Oracle would be certainly somebody that could handle it.’
Trump’s seal of approval drew renewed attention to his links to Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison, who is likely to see a big payday thanks to the TikTok deal.
Ellison secured his spot as the fifth richest person in the US this year as his net worth soared to $74.9billion, according to Forbes.
Back in February the outlet reported that he held a fundraiser for the Trump campaign – which he claimed he didn’t attend – where tickets cost up to $250,000.
Ellison has also been credited as the first person to tell Trump about hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment of COVID-19, before the president aggressively pushed that message in the absence of scientific proof of the drug’s effectiveness against the virus.
Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison’s ties to President Donald Trump have drawn renewed scrutiny following reports that the software company won a bidding war over TikTok’s US operations
Oracle shares surged 10 percent in premarket trading on Monday after sources confirmed that TikTok’s parent company ByteDance accepted its bid to take over the app in the US (file photo)
Ellison and two colleagues at an electronic company, Bob Miner and Ed Oates, co-founded Oracle Corporation in 1977 and grew it into the 136,000-employee company it is today.
He stepped down as CEO in 2014 but remained at the company as executive chairman and chief technology officer.
Since 2016 his net worth has ballooned from just shy of $50billion to nearly $75billion in April 2020.
Ellison is one of only a few top tech titans to openly support Trump – including in a Forbes profile from this spring.
‘We only have one president at a time. I don’t think he’s the devil — I support him and want him to do well,’ the billionaire said, adding that he would support anyone who is currently in the White House.
Ellison noted that he had never donated to the Trump campaign – and federal campaign reports confirmed that he had not made contributions to any candidate in 2016 or 2020.
But on February 19, 2020, Ellison hosted supporters of Trump’s reelection bid for a fundraising golf outing at his Rancho Mirage home in California’s Coachella Valley, according to the Deseret Sun.
Attendees who donated $100,000 were guaranteed golf with the president and a commemorative photo – while those who donated $250,000 also got to sit in on a round-table discussion with Trump.
Ellison, who co-founded Oracle in 1977, secured his spot as the fifth richest person in the US this spring as his net worth soared to $74.9billion, according to Forbes
Ellison told Forbes that he was not home at the time of the fundraiser and that he merely said that Trump could use his property – which Barack Obama had visited in 2015.
However, news of the fundraiser did not sit well with Oracle employees, 300 of whom staged a walkout entitled ‘No Ethics / No Work’ the day after it was held.
A Change.org petition calling for senior Oracle leadership to condemn Ellison’s public support of the president gained close to 10,000 signatures, though its unclear how many of those were from employees.
On the day of the fundraiser, the Trump administration intervened on Oracle’s behalf in its decade-long legal battle with Google.
Oracle had sued Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc for use of copyrighted programming in Android devices in 2010 and the case made it all the way up to the Supreme Court before the Trump administration asked the justices to disregard Alphabet’s appeal.
Winning that case would potentially allow Oracle to collect $8billion in royalties, according to Bloomberg.
Ellison hosted a Trump fundraiser at his Rancho Mirage home (pictured) in California’s Coachella Valley where tickets cost up to $250,000 back in February
Less than two months after the fundraiser, the New York Times reported that Ellison was the first person to speak to Trump about using the malaria drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine as possible treatments for the coronavirus.
The newspaper said that Trump expressed interest in the drugs as a direct result of his conversation with Ellison.
The president went on to publicly tout the drug treatments in press briefings and revealed that he was taking hydroxychloroquine himself – even as scientists and doctors warned that there was no evidence of their effectiveness against COVID-19.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) revoked approval for emergency use of the two drugs in June, citing their lack of effectiveness and potential for ‘serious side effects’.
Ellison’s Forbes profile detailed how he had convened a team of Oracle engineers and officials from federal agencies including the FDA and the National Institutes of Health to build a database of America’s COVID-19 cases where doctors could log treatments used and their effectiveness.
The Washington Post reported that hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine were among the drugs being tested through that system.
In April, Ellison joined several other top tech tycoons including Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Apple’s Tim Cook on a tech committee to advise Trump on how to safely reopen the economy.
Ellison had promised to pay his workers full wages and benefits during the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent shutdown.
Ellison was the first person to speak to Trump about using the malaria drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine as possible treatments for the coronavirus in March, according to the New York Times. Trump is pictured at a May news conference where he revealed that he was personally taking hydroxychloroquine
News of Oracle’s successful bid to take over TikTok’s US operations was met with speculation from critics who questioned whether it was facilitated by Ellison’s friendly relationship with Trump.
The bidding war began after Trump issued an executive order on August 14 directing ByteDance to sell all of its US operations in the next 90 days and distance itself from any data collected through the popular app.
Days earlier, Trump signed a different executive order banning China-based companies from doing business in the US.
US officials have criticized TikTok’s security and privacy, suggesting that user data might be shared with Beijing. TikTok has said it would not comply with any request to share user data with the Chinese authorities.
Microsoft was the first major US tech firm to announce that it was considering acquiring TikTok’s American assets.
Hours before the Oracle bid was announced, Microsoft said that its bid – which was estimated at $30billion and included Wal Mart – had been rejected.
A source then confirmed to the Wall Street Journal that Oracle had come out victorious.
Should ByteDance earn approval for the deal from the American and Chinese governments, Oracle will handle TikTok’s US user data, the source said.
The deal will be structured not as a sale but as a restructuring, the source added, without disclosing how much of TikTok’s US operations ByteDance and its investors will continue to own.
It was unclear if General Atlantic and Sequoia Capital, both of which were previously reported to have spurred on the Oracle deal, ended up being a part of this agreement.
TikTok and Oracle did not immediately return DailyMail.com’s request for comment.