Another company is joining the likes of Microsoft (MSFT), Walmart, (WMT), and Oracle (ORCL) in the bidding war for ownership of TikTok’s U.S. operations — rival short video sharing app Triller.
“The reality is, is that our deal makes the most sense and I think they’re starting to understand that,” Triller’s Owner and Executive Chairman Bobby Sarnevesht told Yahoo Finance’s The Final Round on Tuesday.
Unlike other bidders like Microsoft (partnering with Walmart) and Oracle, Sarnevesht says, “We’re already there. We already have this stuff. We’re already in the trenches with the influencers, and the artists, and the record labels…[Triller] is the most logical place [for a deal]…we wouldn’t have to compete with [TikTok owner] ByteDance’s version of TikTok in other places.”
Triller revealed on Friday that it had made a $20 billion offer for the U.S. assets with investment firm Centricus Asset Management Ltd, though a TikTok spokesperson told Reuters it hadn’t been contacted about the offer.
Sarnevesht told Yahoo Finance that an offer has in fact been made directly to the chairman of TikTok owner ByteDance through the investment firm Centricus.
He insists that this is not a publicity stunt saying, “I don’t really understand that play for Triller. It doesn’t make sense…that’s bad publicity. We don’t want people saying ‘oh these guys are full of it.’ That’s not a good look for us.”
TikTok is in the crosshairs of the U.S. government, following the Trump Administration’s executive order last month giving ByteDance 90 days to either sell or spin off its TikTok business in the US. due to “credible evidence” that the Chinese company threatens national security.
The negotiations for the sale have slowed following questions over whether it would include the app’s algorithm, a prime selling point, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday, citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter. Sarnevesht says that Triller wouldn’t need TikTok’s algorithm, which he described as just a “recommendation engine” that can be recreated. He says China won’t have a problem with a deal with Triller because it wouldn’t need to include any of TikTok’s existing artificial-intelligence technology.
Triller launched in 2015 and boasts roughly 64 million monthly active users compared to TikTok’s 100 million monthly active users in the U.S. Recently, a few popular creators have chosen to leave TikTok in favor of Triller, citing privacy and security concerns.
Sara Dramer is an associate producer at Yahoo Finance.