ByteDance CEO says he is ‘working overtime’ on US TikTok solution

ByteDance would continue to adhere to its globalisation vision. PHOTO: REUTERS

SHANGHAI (BLOOMBERG, REUTERS) - TikTok parent company ByteDance is exploring all possibilities and working around the clock to resolve its intensifying confrontation with US authorities, Chief Executive Officer Zhang Yiming told employees in a letter.

Beijing-based ByteDance has come under pressure from the White House and US lawmakers to sell off its US TikTok operations and now has a 45-day deadline on negotiations with Microsoft Corp over such a deal.

The company had tried to appease regulators - who worry about its data collection and potential connection to the Chinese government - by distancing its domestic operations from the popular video app, hiring nearly a thousand staff in the US and appointing Walt Disney veteran Kevin Mayer as TikTok CEO.

As TikTok surged to global popularity, American officials began calling for a national security investigation into the app.

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS, which investigates overseas acquisitions of US businesses, last year opened a review of the purchase that led to TikTok's creation.

"Even though we've repeatedly stressed that we're a privately-run business, and despite our willingness to adopt even more technical solutions to allay their concerns, CFIUS still believes ByteDance has to sell the TikTok US operation. We do not agree with this decision," Zhang wrote.

"We've always firmly protected the security of users' data, the platform's independence and transparency."

Acknowledging that ByteDance is in negotiations with another tech firm, without naming Microsoft directly, the CEO wrote that the company is still engaged in internal discussions and no final decisions have been made.

"The attention of the outside world and rumors around TikTok might last for a while," Zhang said.

Separately, in a statement posted on its official account on Jinri Toutiao, a news aggregator app it owns late on Sunday (Aug 2), ByteDance said that it has faced "complex and unimaginable difficulties" in the process of working to become a global company,

Still, the company said it would continue to adhere to its globalisation vision.

"ByteDance has always been committed to becoming a global company. During this process, we have faced all kinds of complex and unimaginable difficulties, including the tense international political environment, collision and conflict of different cultures and plagiarism and smears from competitor Facebook," it said.

​TikTok has attracted criticism from Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, who last year accused the app of censoring political protest. TikTok has denied the claim.

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