TikTok could soon be sold. Here's how much it's worth.

TikTok could be under new ownership at this time next year, after President Joe Biden on Wednesday signed a bill that gives the social media company about 12 months to either divest from its Chinese owner or face a U.S. ban. 

TikTok is vowing to fight the new law in the courts, with CEO Shou Chou saying in a video posted to the service yesterday that “the facts and the Constitution are on our side.” He added that TikTok expects “to prevail again,” referring to Montana’s efforts to ban the app, which was blocked by a federal judge.

That being said, TikTok is likely to attract attention from numerous suitors, given that the social media service is used by 6 in 10 Americans under the age of 30. Its algorithm offers up constantly scrolling videos pegged to users’ personal interests and habits, creating an addictive stream that keeps them glued to the app. 

That could prove extremely valuable to a number of suitors, as long as TikTok is sold with its “golden jewel algorithm,” Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives told CBS MoneyWatch.

With the algorithm, he said, “We estimate TikTok is worth $100 billion.”

But TikTok’s owner could strip out that proprietary piece of technology in a sale, making it much less valuable to potential buyers, Ives added.

Here’s what to know. 

Who owns TikTok now?

TikTok, with more than 170 million American users, is a subsidiary of Chinese technology firm ByteDance, which is why U.S. lawmakers describe the company as “Chinese-owned.”

But ByteDance’s structure is complicated, with the Associated Press reporting that it is based in Beijing but registered in the Cayman Islands. 

TikTok, for its part, argues its alleged ownership by a Chinese company is a myth. In a 2023 posting on its website, the video platform says that ByteDance is 60% owned by global institutional investors, including Susquehanna International Group, Carlyle Group and General Atlantic. Another 20% is owned by ByteDance employees, while the remaining 20% is owned by its founder, Chinese entrepreneur Zhang Yiming, the company says.

How much is TikTok worth in 2024? 

TikTok is likely worth $100 billion, according to Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives. 

But that valuation is based on TikTok’s algorithm, the logic written into the software that decides which videos to serve up to its users in a constant stream. Without the algorithm, the company could be sold for much less, Ives said. 

“We believe China and ByteDance will never sell this with the golden jewel algorithm. Without the algorithm we believe TikTok is worth $30 billion to $40 billion,” he told CBS MoneyWatch. 

Who could buy TikTok? 

Likely suitors would be Microsoft, Oracle and Walmart, Ives said. But other companies and investors are likely to express interest, he added. 

“Private equity will swarm after this deal as well with [former Treasury Secretary Steven] Mnuchin and others,” Ives said. 

Mnuchin told CNBC last month that he was working on a coalition of investors to acquire TikTok, anticipating that the divest-or-ban bill would become law. “It’s a great business and I’m going to put together a group to buy TikTok,” Mnuchin told CNBC. 

How likely is it that TikTok will be sold? 

It’s hard to say, but Ives said he believes there’s a 75% chance TikTok will have new ownership by early 2025. 

At the same time, TikTok has previously succeeded in blocking a ban through legal action, with a federal judge ruling late last year that Montana’s attempt to ban the service “oversteps state power and infringes on the Constitutional rights of users and businesses.

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