Under stipulations set by the White House to alleviate national security concerns, ByteDance would need to sell TikTok’s U.S. operations to reduce the app’s Chinese ownership. It would also have to sell to one or more companies that have a technology services provider, in part to transfer TikTok’s American user data over to U.S. servers. Both Microsoft and Oracle satisfy those requirements.
Prices for a potential deal have ranged from $20 billion to $50 billion, people with knowledge of the talks have said. It was unclear what bid amounts were submitted.
Microsoft, with $137 billion in cash and a market value of more than $1.7 trillion, is far larger than other potential acquirers and has the deepest resources. Oracle, with a market value of $175 billion, has roughly $43 billion in cash and short-term investments, and also holds debt.
Dan Ives, an analyst at Wedbush Securities, said in a note to investors that the participation of Walmart was likely “the final piece of the puzzle that ultimately cements Microsoft successfully acquiring TikTok’s U.S. operations for likely $35 billion to $40 billion.”
The emergence of the two bids follows the resignation late on Wednesday of TikTok’s chief executive, Kevin Mayer. Mr. Mayer, a former Disney executive who had announced he was joining TikTok in May, said he was resigning because he had signed on for a global role, not to run a carved-up version of the company. In a note to employees, he also indicated that a deal for TikTok might be close.
“We expect to reach a resolution very soon,” Mr. Mayer wrote.
Zhang Yiming, ByteDance’s chief executive, said in his own note that ByteDance and TikTok were moving swiftly to resolve its issues in the United States and India, where the app was banned in June.
“I cannot get into details at this point, but I can assure you that we are developing solutions that will be in the interest of users, creators, partners and employees,” Mr. Zhang said.