Billionaire Frank McCourt Plans TikTok Takeover with Consortium

TikTok's future faces uncertainty amid new federal legislation.

by Nouman Rasool
Billionaire Frank McCourt Plans TikTok Takeover with Consortium
© Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Billionaire businessman and real estate mogul Frank McCourt has announced his intention to assemble a consortium to purchase TikTok's U.S. business. He now becomes the latest on the growing list of investors who had shown interest in the popular platform after recent federal legislation mandating the China-based parent company, ByteDance, divests its U.S.

operations or risks a ban against TikTok. The former Los Angeles Dodgers owner, in a statement on Wednesday, sought to emphasize that he is working in collaboration with investment bank Guggenheim Securities on a scheme to engineer the bid.

McCourt said that his vision for TikTok places people and the empowerment of data at the forefront and seeks to rearchitect the platform with transparency at its core. McCourt is proposing an immense redesign for TikTok: moving the platform onto open-source protocol to enable users to take control over their digital identity and data.

This, according to McCourt, is supposedly the way to impose greater transparency of a user on the platform for more trust.

Other Interested Investors

Other high-profile investors who have reportedly shown interest in acquiring TikTok include former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

However, ByteDance is adamant they will not sell the platform, and the Chinese government will likely not approve any sale, especially not one that includes the critical algorithm that powers TikTok's video recommendations.

In one of the legal responses, ByteDance and TikTok last week filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government, seeking to block the newly passed divestiture law. In another challenge, eight TikTok creators claimed that the law violated their First Amendment right to free speech.

At the same time, TikTok is fighting in a different court in Montana to overturn a state law that would declare the platform illegal. On Tuesday, parties in the Montana case agreed to a deal to put that lawsuit on hold pending the outcome of the federal cases.

Montana's law, poised to take effect on Jan. 1 but temporarily blocked by a court, would be nullified if TikTok is acquired by a company not headquartered in a country deemed a foreign adversary. Frank McCourt, whose worth Forbes estimated at $1.4 billion, has been a big-money guy.

He sold the Dodgers for $2 billion to Guggenheim Baseball Management in 2012, then in 2016 bought the French soccer club Marseille. As the battle for the future of TikTok unfolds, a McCourt purchase would reshape the social media landscape in the US, underlining the ongoing conflict between technological innovation, user privacy, and geopolitical tensions.