On Sept. 13, TikTok user Eliana Ghen posted a video — which hit 1.5 million views — where she screamed into the camera, “TikTok sold, you guys! That means we’re not going anywhere!” Technically, TikTok owner ByteDance isn’t planning to sell the popular app. Instead, it has tapped Oracle as its tech partner in the U.S. But her sentiment was echoed by others who were thrilled that a ban may have been averted.
“We’ve seen apps come and go before, but never have we seen one potentially go away in such a dramatic, enforced manner,” says Maxwell Mitcheson, who works with many TikTokers as head of talent at management firm TalentX.
It’s not guaranteed that President Donald Trump won’t still ban TikTok on Sept. 20, the deadline he set in his early-August executive order calling for the sale of the app’s U.S. business over national security concerns, but he previously said the software giant was “certainly somebody that could handle” the business.
Though ByteDance is not pursuing an outright sale, it may win support for its proposal, which includes plans to add around 20,000 new jobs by establishing the U.S. as TikTok’s global headquarters, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said. (Beyond confirming that it has sent a proposal to the U.S. Department of the Treasury with Oracle as its partner, the Beijing-based tech giant has not spoken publicly about the deal.)
“I think we’re all kind of in the same boat right now, just waiting to see what happens,” says Mitcheson of the talent and executives who now do business on TikTok, which has 100 million monthly active users in the U.S.
If the government approves the partnership between ByteDance, led by CEO Zhang Yiming, and Oracle, TikTokers may see little difference in their day-to-day interactions with the platform. “For the creative community, nothing really is going to change,” says Kendall Ostrow, head of client strategy at UTA IQ.
But some creators expressed disappointment in Oracle founder Larry Ellison’s close ties to Trump, for whom he hosted a fundraiser earlier this year. “They’ll probably choke this platform to death,” said user @lord_timothais in a post liked more than 1,000 times. “We’ll see.”
This story first appeared in the Sept. 16 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.