Steve August 18, 2020
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Database and ERP giant Oracle is reportedly preparing a counter-bid to upset Microsoft’s planned purchase of video-sharing social network TikTok.

The Financial Times, quoting “people briefed on the matter,” reports that Oracle has had talks with TikTok owner ByteDance, plus investors that already have a stake in TikTok.

The aim of the talks is apparently to trump Microsoft’s bid for TikTok’s assets in the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Why Oracle would want any part of TikTok is hard to understand. Big Red does offer a cloudy unified communications tool called Beehive but it is hardly a front-line product for the company. It is hard to see a corporatized version of TikTok creating buzz for Beehive, or giving it the sting needed to take on the likes of Teams, WebEx or Slack.

Nor does it seem likely that Oracle thinks it is a good idea to operate a social network mostly used by youth, as doing so would be a radical departure from its focus on business software. If Oracle is contemplating such a shift, it must surely consider that enterprise vendors have terrible histories of attempting to enter the consumer world. Cisco, for example, had embarrassing flops as owner of the Flip camcorder and failed with the Umi home videoconferencing product.

The Register therefore wonders if there aren’t other motives behind the bid. Oracle founder Larry Ellison and Microsoft have a long enmity so bidding for TikTok could see Redmond pay even more for an already-contentious outfit. Or perhaps Oracle represents a useful corporate shelter for other ByteDance investors who could park the company under a Big Red umbrella before Tweety McTreason’s deadline for TikTok to dispose of itself or be banished from America as part of his tough-on-China rhetoric.

Speaking of Trump, Ellison is a known admirer of the American president. Could he be playing politics in some other weird way? ®

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