Real Estate

McCourt Eyes TikTok for User Data Control, Bids on $35-$40B Valuation

Frank McCourt eyes TikTok's U.S. operations with a $35-$40 billion bid, aiming to revolutionize data privacy and user control.

By Doug Elli

5/15, 13:03 EDT
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Key Takeaway

  • Frank McCourt plans to form a consortium for TikTok's US business bid, focusing on user data control rather than the app's algorithm.
  • TikTok, valued at $35-$40 billion, faces potential sale due to President Biden's law targeting Chinese tech firms' US operations.
  • McCourt aims to transform TikTok into an open-source platform through Project Liberty, with funding from diverse sources including private capital and philanthropies.

A New Vision for TikTok's Future

In a surprising turn of events, Frank McCourt, a name synonymous with real estate and sports team ownership, has emerged as a potential bidder for TikTok's U.S. operations. Amidst a backdrop of increasing scrutiny over TikTok's data privacy practices and its Chinese parent company ByteDance, the U.S. government, under President Joe Biden's administration, has pushed for the divestiture of TikTok's U.S. business. McCourt's interest in TikTok, as reported by Bloomberg, is not just a business acquisition but a pivot towards creating an "alternative web" that prioritizes user data control and transparency. This move aligns with his broader vision through Project Liberty, aiming to decentralize social media power structures and enhance digital privacy.

Bridging Real Estate Acumen with Technological Innovation

Frank McCourt's journey from real estate mogul to a potential tech titan reflects a broader narrative of industry convergence. Known for his transformative projects in Boston and his tenure as the owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, McCourt's bid for TikTok, estimated to be valued between $35 billion and $40 billion, signifies a bold leap into the tech arena. This transition is supported by his commitment to Project Liberty and a $500 million investment aimed at challenging the dominance of tech giants like Meta Platforms Inc. McCourt's vision for TikTok involves migrating the platform to an open-source protocol, a move that could redefine user interaction with social media by granting them greater control over their data.

The Competitive Landscape and Global Tech Dynamics

The race to acquire TikTok's U.S. business has attracted a diverse group of potential bidders, including high-profile names like former Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt. This competitive landscape is set against a backdrop of significant tech industry shifts, with companies like Tencent experiencing robust growth through similar platforms. McCourt's bid, however, stands out for its focus on transforming TikTok into a tool for social empowerment rather than merely a financial investment. By proposing an open-source platform, McCourt aims to address growing concerns over data privacy and the monopolistic tendencies of major tech companies.

A Paradigm Shift in Tech Ownership

Frank McCourt's foray into the tech world represents more than just a business acquisition; it's a potential paradigm shift in how social media platforms operate and engage with user data. By emphasizing user control and data transparency, McCourt's vision for TikTok challenges the status quo of tech monopolies and proposes a new model for digital interaction. This approach, supported by notable figures like Tim Berners-Lee and backed by significant financial and legal resources, could set a precedent for future tech ownership, prioritizing user empowerment over corporate interests.

Management Quotes

  • Frank McCourt, executive chairman of McCourt Global:

    "It’s too early to know what price TikTok will fetch or if it will be sold... It’s still very noisy." "We’re not interested in the algorithm. We’re interested in an alternative web where people own and control their data, own and control their identity." "We see this potential acquisition as an incredible opportunity to catalyze an alternative to the current tech model that has colonized the internet."