Meet the Oracle Team Crucial to Saving TikTok in the US

George Paul · September 21, 2020
Oracle logo on a red background with lights
Editorial credit: Sergiy Palamarchuk / Shutterstock.com

Last week, ByteDance named Oracle as TikTok’s “trusted technology provider,” as part of a deal that has now allowed the viral video social media app to continue to operate in the US. The deal, which also includes Walmart, will give the US companies minority stakes in the Chinese-owned app - Oracle has reportedly agreed to take a 12.5% stake in the app and Walmart will take a 7.5% stake.

As part of the deal, TikTok says it will expand its US headquarters and create 25,000 jobs across the country.

President Donald Trump has said a new company will likely be incorporated in Texas and that TikTok would make a $5 billion contribution toward an education fund and pay over $5 billion in new taxes to the US Treasury Department.

Trump has given this deal his blessing and said that he approves of it "in concept." While the plan has only been tentatively approved, it is a significant win for the app to stay active in the US.

As a result of the recent developments, the US Department of Commerce has delayed the implementation of a ban on the app until September 27. The government had initially stated that downloads of the TikTok app will be banned and the app will be removed from app stores in the US beginning September 20. Larger technical limitations for the app are slated to go into effect on November 12.

Oracle and Walmart's deal must officially be approved by the White House and the Committee on Foreign Investment, but it is believed that it satisfies the concerns around data security that have been previously raised by the US government.

Under the deal, TikTok will switch to Oracle’s in-house cloud computing service for its servers and storage, meaning its US data can be processed through Oracle rather than sent to ByteDance's data centers in China. ByteDance has also reportedly agreed to let Oracle review TikTok’s source code and software to ensure there are no backdoors for bad actors to access the data.

Oracle CEO Safra Catz stated, “We are a hundred percent confident in our ability to deliver a highly secure environment to TikTok and ensure data privacy to TikTok’s American users, and users throughout the world.”

According to sources cited by The Wall Street Journal, Oracle’s interest in TikTok is primarily driven by kick-starting its fledgling cloud-computing business, which remains far behind market leaders Amazon and Microsoft - Microsoft also competed for TikTok’s US business.

As Oracle works to finalize the approval process for the deal, the company will turn to several key team members to ensure it can execute on what will be a game-changing deal for the company.

Oracle's org chart image with button

Mary Ann Davidson is the Chief Security Officer at Oracle, where she is responsible for software security assurance. She also represents Oracle on the board of directors of the Information Technology Information Sharing and Analysis Center and serves on the international board of the Information Systems Security Association. As an influential member of the information security industry, she has likely been a crucial voice alongside Chief Compliance and Ethics Officer Mary Doyle, to help appease regulators’ concerns about TikTok’s security.

Eric Shefler is the SVP of North American Cloud Infrastructure and will likely handle the bulk of data generated by TikTok users in the US. It will be up to Shefler to ensure that TikTok has reliable and secure data storage. Additionally, Shefler will have an increasingly important role if the TikTok deal does indeed kickstart Oracle’s fledgling cloud-computing business and helps the company more closely compete with market leaders Amazon and Microsoft.

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