Confusion Over TikTok Oracle Walmart Deal Appears After Trump Comments

In yet another twist to this whole saga, Trump says that the deal includes $5 Billion earmarked towards a history project. ByteDance is unaware of this.

The TikTok Oracle Walmart deal is already a mouthful. How we got to the formation of this deal is already convoluted enough as it is. Throw in all the moving parts surrounding this whole affair and you almost need diagrams to keep track of it all. First, there is the Trump factor which initiated this saga in the first place. Next, you have the Chinese government factor which can veto it all. Third, you have the ByteDance lawsuit which closely mirrors the WeChat lawsuit. All of these factors are in play in all of this. It’s easy to characterize it all as one big mess. So, it’s no surprise that there is also a lot of confusion in all of this as well.

While it’s all very confusing to average readers and even to observers an analysts, you might think it’s all manageable behind the scene for the players involved. Well, even for them, it’s all very confusing as well.

Last week, Trump touted an extra $5 billion destined to a historical project. This is supposed to come out of the deal in the first place. From USAToday:

President Donald Trump has signed off on a business proposal between TikTok, Walmart and Oracle that would allow the social networking app to continue to operate in the U.S.

One of Trump’s stipulations for approving the deal was a $5 billion commitment from the companies to create an education initiative that teaches children America’s “real history,” the President said.

Trump first mentioned the education fund on Saturday as he left the White House for a campaign rally in North Carolina. “We’re going to be setting up a very large fund for the education of American youth,” Trump told reporters as he announced “conceptually” signing off on the TikTok venture.

“That’ll be great. That’s their contribution that I’ve been asking for,” Trump added.

It was quite the news story. In fact, it was news to a lot of people – including ByteDance. In response to the revelation, ByteDance said that it is unaware of this aspect of the deal. From CNBC:

TikTok owner Bytedance said in a social media post on Sunday that it was the first time it had heard in the news it was setting up a $5 billion education fund in the United States.

U.S. President Donald Trump said he had approved a deal, which included a $5 billion education fund, to allow TikTok to continue to operate in the United States.

“The company has been committed to investing in the education field, and plans to work with partners and global shareholders to launch online classroom projects based on AI and video technology for students around the world,” ByteDance said on its official account on Toutiao.

The question at this stage is whether or not there is an education fund that exists in the first place. Apparently, while the companies support the idea of an education fund, the specific one referenced by Trump doesn’t appear to really exist. From the LA Times:

ByteDance, Oracle and Walmart, which is part of the TikTok deal, agreed to create an initiative after Trump made the last-minute request. But they have had no discussions about a $5-billion commitment or any other amount, according to people familiar with the situation.

ByteDance and its new partners will not create an education program that seeks to teach American history in a manner that is tailored to any specific bias, said two people with direct knowledge of the matter.

On Saturday, Oracle said it and the other TikTok investors would create an educational initiative “to develop and deliver an AI-driven online video curriculum to teach children from inner cities to the suburbs,” adding that the courses would range from “basic reading and math to science, history and computer engineering.”

The lack of certainty raises questions about the timing of any final approval for the deal. The Commerce Department on Friday told Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their app stores on Sunday. It later extended the deadline by one week to give the companies time to work out the final details with the administration — and pave the way for the order to remove the apps to be reversed.

It’s certainly a bizarre turn of events, though with the impeached president being a player in all of this, it’s probably not surprising that things took a bizarre turn at some point.

As for where things stand, it appears that TikTok has evaded the ban with a court injunction. So, for now, as far as users are concerned, it’s business as usual while things get hashed out through the court system. As we pointed out in the previous article, this could potentially give ByteDance a whole lot of additional breathing room because they know that the ban is now in the hands of the US court system. If anything, it buys the platform time which may be something Trump doesn’t have a whole lot of left (assuming the polls are more correct about where things stand in the election this time around). This particular twist may end up being relegated to being one of many bumps along the way.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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