- US tech giant Oracle is reportedly preparing a bid for the US operations of massively popular social media app TikTok.
- President Trump, expressing support for Oracle’s bid, called it a “great company.”
- Larry Ellison, the Oracle cofounder, is one of the richest people in the world and has previously hosted a fundraiser for Trump at his Coachella Valley home (he told Forbes he didn’t attend).
- Representatives for Oracle declined to comment for this story. The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to request for comment.
- Take a look inside their relationship.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Oracle is reportedly eyeing a bid to take over popular social media app TikTok — with President Trump’s support.
On August 14, President Trump released an executive order directing ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, to sell all of its US operations in the next 90 days and distance itself from any data collected through the popular app, citing a potential threat “to impair the national security of the United States.”
Prior to that, he signed a different executive order on August 6 that would prevent China-based companies, like TikTok, from doing business in the US. Trump began discussing similar actions regarding TikTok in late July, when he told reporters onboard Air Force One: “As far as TikTok is concerned, we’re banning them from the United States.”
Microsoft was the first major US tech firm to confirm, in an early August blog post, that it was considering acquiring TikTok’s American assets. CNBC reported that it could go for as high as $30 billion.
On August 19, President Trump said that Oracle is a “great company” and, regarding a TikTok takeover, said it “would be certainly somebody that could handle it.”
Ellison stepped down as Oracle CEO in 2014 but continues to enjoy his position as one of the richest people in the world.
Ellison, ranked ninth in the list of richest people in the US and twelfth in the world, has a net worth of $64.6 billion. The number grew by just a hair short of $6 billion in the last year. His Bloomberg Billionaires profile credits him as being “self-made.”
In 1977, Ellison and two colleagues at an electronic company cofounded the programming firm that evolved into Oracle Corp. Ellison stepped down as CEO in 2014 but remained at the company as executive chairman of the board and chief technology officer.
He bought the Hawaiian Island of Lanai for $300 million in 2012, which Forbes later called “his petri dish of experimentation on health, wellness, and sustainability.” During the coronavirus pandemic and shutdown, Ellison said he would pay his workers full wages and benefits through at least May 1.
He currently lives in Rancho Mirage in California’s Coachella Valley.
In a Forbes profile from April 2020, Ellison said he supports Trump and wants him to do well.
“We only have one president at a time. I don’t think he’s the devil – I support him and want him to do well,” Ellison told Forbes writer Angela Au-Yeng. He added that he would support anyone who’s currently in the Oval Office.
Ellison also told the magazine that he had never donated to the Trump campaign. The Desert Sun reported that Ellison didn’t donate in 2016 or 2020, citing federal campaign reports.
Ellison held a fundraiser for Trump at his Rancho Mirage home in February, with the contributions going to a fundraising committee created in collaboration between his campaign and the state and national chapters of the Republican Party.
The Desert Sun’s Sam Metz reported that Ellison’s Rancho Mirage property hosted supporters of the president’s reelection bid on a golf outing.
A $100,000 donation guaranteed golf with the president and a photo to commemorate the occasion. With $250,000, supporters got everything in the previous bracket as well as a round-table conversation.
As for whether he was present during the fundraiser, Ellison told Forbes, “Be absolutely precise. I said President Trump could use the property. I was not here.”
Barack Obama visited the same golf course in 2015. Theodore Schleifer wrote for Recode that Ellison was previously known to be close to Bill Clinton and attended fundraisers for his reelection in the ’90s.
Though Ellison has maintained that he wasn’t physically present at the fundraiser, his hosting didn’t sit well with some of his employees.
After news broke that Ellison was hosting the fundraiser, a Change.org petition started circulating online, asking senior Oracle leadership to condemn Ellison’s actions. The petition gathered close to 10,000 signatures from users online, it is unclear how many employees signed it.
The day after the fundraiser, about 300 Oracle employees staged a walkout called “No Ethics / No Work.”
Nico Grant reported for Bloomberg that employees stopped working at noon local time, wherever they were located, and devoted the rest of the day to volunteer work.
Per Forbes, Ellison and Trump had a phone call in the initial days of the coronavirus pandemic in the US. It is unclear who called whom.
The New York Times reported in April that Ellison was the first person Trump heard from about hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine as possible treatments for the novel coronavirus.
The president has repeatedly touted the two anti-malaria drugs, even saying that he’s taken one of them himself, despite scientists and doctors warning against it.
In June, the Food and Drug Administration revoked approval for emergency use of the two drugs, citing their lack of effectiveness and warning they could have potentially “serious side effects.”
Dr. Carlos Del Rio, an infectious disease physician at Emory University School of Medicine at Emory University, told NBC News in July that “it does not work for treatment or for prevention. I have no idea why there is still talk about it, but it’s wrong.”
Ellison brought together engineers at his own company and federal agencies to create a far-reaching coronavirus database.
Per his April Forbes profile, Ellison brought together Oracle engineers and officials from federal agencies including the FDA and the National Institutes of Health to build a database of COVID-19 cases in the US where doctors could log treatments used and their effectiveness.
The Washington Post reported that, among other drugs, hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine were being tested through this system.
Trump put Ellison on the tech cohort of his Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups.
In April, Ellison joined industry bigwigs such as Mark Zuckerberg, Tim Cook, and Satya Nadella on a tech committee to advise President Trump on how to safely reopen the economy.
In February, the Trump administration argued before the Supreme Court that Microsoft’s decade-long legal case against Oracle be dismissed. This recommendation came on the same day as Trump’s fundraiser at Ellison’s Coachella Valley home.
The lawsuit has been in the court system for a decade and began when Oracle sued Microsoft for use of copyrighted programming in Android devices. The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to disregard Microsoft’s appeal.
Bloomberg reported that this would potentially allow Oracle to collect $8 billion in royalties.
Ellison isn’t the only top Oracle employee to show President Trump support. In 2016, co-CEO Safra Catz joined the transition team.
While maintaining her position at the tech company, Safra Catz joined the president-elect’s transition team in December 2016.
An executive who had been at Oracle on and off for longer than two decades resigned soon after in response.