Privately held China-based TikTok parent ByteDance is considering selling a majority stake in the video app, according to reports by The Information and The New York Times.
The possibility is being considered as heightened political tensions between China and the U.S. come on top of growing calls to ban TikTok in the U.S. due to fears that the app is being used by China’s government to gather user data.
This morning, news broke that China has ordered the closure of the U.S. consulate in Chengdu in retaliation for the U.S.'s having earlier this week ordered closure of China's consulate in Houston.
TikTok declined to comment beyond telling The Times that in recent weeks, “there have been numerous suggestions made by external people not involved in the company’s internal discussions.”
Earlier this week, TikTok, in its latest attempt to blunt the attacks, said it had committed to adding some 10,000 jobs in the U.S. over the next three years.
This month has seen the Trump administration threaten to ban TikTok in the U.S.; branches of the U.S. military and companies including Wells Fargo actually ban use of the app; and the U.S. House of Representatives vote, as part of a defense spending bill, to prohibit federal employees from using the app on government phones.
ByteDance, which has employed lobbyists to make its case that TikTok is run separately from its Chinese business and it is not a security risk to the U.S., is valued at $100 billion and has continued to see user growth. The app, which is hugely popular with young people, in particular, has generated 172 downloads in the U.S. and 1.9 billion worldwide to date, per SensorTower.