Real Estate Mogul Frank McCourt Organizes Bid to Acquire TikTok’s US Business

Real estate mogul Frank McCourt is leading a new effort to buy TikTok’s US business through Project Liberty, an internet advocacy group he founded in 2021. McCourt’s move comes after US lawmakers voted to ban the Chinese-owned app unless it is sold within a year.

On Wednesday, McCourt announced that he is forming a team of experts to help with the acquisition. This group includes investment bank Guggenheim Securities, law firm Kirkland & Ellis, as well as technology experts, academics, and parents. Their goal is to create a new internet model that gives users and creators more control over their digital identities and data.

“We thought this was a really fantastic opportunity to accelerate the creation of an alternative internet,” McCourt told the Associated Press. With a net worth of $1.4 billion, McCourt made his wealth through real estate and sports investments, including owning the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Project Liberty and TikTok’s Open-Source Model

The announcement follows a decision by US lawmakers last month to ban TikTok from US app stores unless it is sold within a year. In response, TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, has taken legal action against the federal government to challenge the ban. Despite the pressure, TikTok has stated that it has no plans to sell the platform.

McCourt’s bid, known as the Frank McCourt TikTok acquisition, is supported by several high-profile technologists, including Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web. According to Project Liberty’s website, they aim to transform TikTok’s business model into an open-source platform. This change would give users and creators more control over their data, addressing significant TikTok data privacy issues.

Uncertainties Surrounding the Bid

There are still many unknowns about McCourt’s plan. The announcement did not specify how much money is being raised for the bid or if the group has started talks with TikTok. McCourt is one of several investors interested in buying the platform. Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt considered purchasing TikTok but decided against it. Former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is also interested but may not have enough funds. Big Tech companies face antitrust issues if they try to buy the app.

Valuing TikTok’s US Business

Estimating TikTok’s US business value is difficult. One valuation suggests it could be worth $100 billion, while another claims it is not significant to ByteDance’s revenue. The platform’s success is largely due to its “For You Page” algorithm, which recommends videos to users based on their interests. This algorithm is a key factor in TikTok’s popularity.

McCourt, however, does not want the algorithm. “We doubt very much that China would sell TikTok with the algorithm,” McCourt told the New York Times. “We’re the one bidder that doesn’t want the algorithm because we’re talking about a different architecture, a different way of thinking about the internet and how it operates.”

A New Vision for Social Media

McCourt’s plan represents a bold move to redefine how social media platforms operate. By focusing on data privacy and giving users more control, Project Liberty aims to create a more open and user-friendly internet. The TikTok US sale, driven by McCourt’s vision, could set a new precedent in the industry.

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