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TikTok's time in the US could soon be on the clock, and that's not the app's only problem

Dan DeFrancesco   

TikTok's time in the US could soon be on the clock, and that's not the app's only problem
  • This post originally appeared in the Insider Today newsletter.

Hello there! If you were disappointed to see basketball star Caitlin Clark's modest WNBA salary, take comfort knowing she just inked an eight-figure endorsement deal with Nike.

In today's big story, we're looking at the steps being taken toward banning TikTok in the US.

What's on deck:

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The big story

Tick-tock on TikTok

TikTok's time in the US could soon be on the clock.

The much-discussed ban of the popular app took a big step this weekend. The US House of Representatives passed a bill forcing TikTok's Chinese owner ByteDance to sell the company or face a ban.

That leaves the Senate to approve it today, which it likely will, followed by President Joe Biden signing the bill into law. When it's all said and done, a TikTok ban could be in place before the week's end.

Sort of.

Business Insider's Peter Kafka explains why the TikTok ban, while more imminent than ever, still has a long way to go.

ByteDance will undoubtedly put up a legal fight over the law, and will also have a year to find a suitor before getting the boot.

Finding a buyer for a company with such a sizable valuation — Bloomberg Intelligence pegged it at up to $40 billion in March — is difficult enough. Although people have already thrown their hats in the ring.

But you're also talking about closing a large deal at a time when interest rates show no signs of slowing down, and M&A has been largely nonexistent.

Oh, and did I mention the seller would be doing the entire process under protest? And their country of origin is in the midst of a brutal trade war with the US?

So yes, what could go wrong?

In the meantime, TikTok keeps scrolling along.

An internal memo sent Saturday from Michael Beckerman, TikTok's head of public policy in the Americas, assured workers it would fight the bill, deeming it "the beginning, not the end."

The ban isn't the only concern for the app. Some Gen Zers feel TikTok has already committed the cardinal sin of internet apps: selling out. At a time when people struggle to get by, TikTok is inundating users with creators hawking products, writes BI's Lindsay Dodgson.

But don't expect TikTok to back off. TikTok Shop has proved to be a big success in retaining customers, outperforming Shein and Temu when it came to repeat purchases, according to one report.

Building out its e-commerce business will likely remain a key focus as it looks to reach profitability. Despite about $20 billion in revenue last year, TikTok is still in its cash-burn era, according to The Information.

A TikTok ban would benefit one familiar face in social media, though, writes BI's Katie Notopoulos. Instagram's Reels, the short-form video player, would be a natural landing spot for TikTokers looking for a new home. Plus, it's already pulled ahead of TikTok in certain categories.

YouTube Shorts, too, stand to grab more attention after a TikTok ban.

But the demise of a rival might be a short-term benefit. The government successfully shutting down a popular app is not the precedent Big Tech wants to set.

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  2. The New York Stock Exchange might become the trading venue that never sleeps. The NYSE is reportedly considering remaining open 24 hours a day. It's not the only venue pushing for 24/7 trading, as a startup backed by Steve Cohen's VC firm wants to be the world's first 24-hour stock exchange.

  3. In China, all that glitters is gold. People in China are snapping up gold, amid signs that the world's second-largest economy is faltering. The country's central bank is also getting in on the act, having upped its holdings of the precious metal for 17 months in a row.

3 things in tech

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  2. How Mark Zuckerberg prepared for a GenAI wave he didn't even see coming. When he started amassing GPUs in 2022, it wasn't for generative AI. Instead, he was hoping they would help with his metaverse ambitions. GenAI wasn't on his mind — but he still did what he could to be ready for the unexpected.

  3. No pitch deck required. Nikhil Teja Kolli's startup uses AI-enabled security cameras to curb theft and fraud. In March, it closed a $1.5 million funding round — without even having to show prospective investors a pitch deck.

3 things in business

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  3. From Amazon to Walmart, here's how much you can make working for big retailers. BI tracked SEC filings to work out the median wage for workers at 19 big-name brands. Spoiler alert: Costco, Amazon, and Nordstrom came out on top.

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What's happening today

The Insider Today team: Dan DeFrancesco, deputy editor and anchor, in New York. Jordan Parker Erb, editor, in New York. Hallam Bullock, senior editor, in London. George Glover, reporter, in London.