A group of US investors in TikTok parent company ByteTance are reportedly discussing a plan to save the embattled app by buying it.
The investors, including Silicon Valley big shot Sequoia Capital, want to eliminate any trace of Chinese control over TikTok in hopes of lessening scrutiny of the platform, including by US legislators, according to The Information.
The talks are still in preliminary stages, but ByteDance founder Zhang Yiming is reportedly open to a sale. Beijing-based ByteDance was most recently valued at $75 billion, and TikTok is its biggest hit outside of China. Some ByteDance investors value TikTok at at $40 billion, the report said.
The investors would buy a majority stake in TikTok, with ByteDance maintaining a minority stake with no board representation, and would look to eventually take the social media platform public.
It is unclear if the investors would only purchase TikTok’s US operations, or if they would also acquire TikTok’s business in India, where it was recently banned in June.
The company is facing intense pressure in Washington over concerns that China could force it to turn over user data. This week the House voted to ban federal employees from downloading TikTok onto government-issue phones.
Earlier this month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States was “certainly looking at” banning Chinese social media apps, including TikTok.
TikTok has said it has never provided user data to China and that it would not do so if asked, saying in a statement that it has “no higher priority than promoting a safe app experience that protects our users’ privacy.”