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Everything we know about Trump’s WeChat and TikTok bans

September 18, 2020, 2:44 PM UTC

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On Friday, the Trump administration announced a ban on the distribution of TikTok and WeChat apps starting Sept. 20, and piled on even more restrictions on the latter.

Predictably, the news has only created a surge in questions as to what exactly the ban means and how it will play out. Here’s what we know, for now:

It’s not an outright ban of the two apps…yet. The Department of Commerce announced that users will be prohibited from newly downloading and updating WeChat and TikTok through mobile app stores starting Sept. 20.

The administration is cracking down harder on WeChat than TikTok this time. In addition to the above, the department has also banned domestic payments processing and fund transferrals on WeChat starting Sept. 20. And it’s forbidding “any provision of internet hosting services” as well as “any provision of content delivery network services” that may enable WeChat’s mobile app functioning in the U.S. Which is… a lot of jargon.

WeChat is effectively being shut down, according to the administration. While it’s still unclear what exactly all the restrictions mean in terms of functionality for WeChat users, “WeChat U.S. for all practical purposes will be shut down,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told Fox Business on Friday.

The deadline for TikTok to find a deal that satisfies regulators seems to have been extended. The new Commerce Department announcement pushes the broad ban of the short-form video app until Nov. 12, seemingly giving the company until then to come together with a deal that satisfies regulators. On Nov. 12, however, the same restrictions that WeChat now faces will also hit TikTok, per the announcement. Which is…going to be interesting as the U.S. presidential elections are scheduled for Nov. 3. 

Meanwhile, TikTok owner ByteDance and Oracle are sketching out plans to keep regulators happy and the company alive in the U.S., including a proposal to push U.S. investor ownership of a new TikTok entity over 50%. Oh, and ByteDance may seek to list TikTok Global on a U.S. exchange to address concerns about its Chinese ownership. And wait! We’re not done yet: TikTok has also considered Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom for CEO. 

THE BUY-NOW-PAY-LATER BOOM: Affirm, a fintech startup that offers online installment plans on furniture and other goods, raised $500 million in Series G funding, the company revealed Thursday. GIC and Durable Capital Partners led the round, and were joined by investors including Durable Capital Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Wellington Management Company, Baillie Gifford, Spark Capital, Founders Fund, and Fidelity Management & Research Company. With a repeat founder at its helm (Max Levchin, who co-founded PayPal), Affirm sits in a business that has been attracting hordes of funding. Recently, Swedish fintech Klarna, which is also a buy-now-pay-later startup, raised $650 million at a $10.6 billion valuation.

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- Palleon Pharmaceuticals, a Waltham, Mass.-based company treating cancer and inflammatory diseases, raised $100 million in Series B funding. Matrix Capital Management led the round and was joined by investors including SR One, Pfizer Ventures, Vertex Ventures HC, Takeda Ventures, AbbVie Ventures, and Surveyor Capital.

- Lava Therapeutics, a Netherlands- and Philadelphia-based biotech focused on cancer therapies, raised $83 million (€71 million) in Series C funding. Novo Ventures and Sanofi Ventures led the round and were joined by Redmile Group, Ysios Capital, and BB Pureos Bioventures.

- Treez, an Oakland, Calif.-based company focused on automation for the cannabis industry supply chain, raised $13 million in Series B funding. Intrinsic Capital Partners led the round.

- Hysolate, a Tel Aviv and New York-based cybersecurity startup, raised $10 million in funding. Planven led the round and was joined by investors including Bessemer Venture Partners, Innovation Endeavor and Team8.

- Forage, a San Francisco-based startup with open-access virtual internships, raised  $9.3 million in funding. Lightspeed Venture Partners led the round. 

- Bayes, a Berlin-based esports company, raised $6 million in funding. Investors included the Pohlad Family, Fertitta Capital, and Sony Innovation Fund.

- Pachama, a San Francisco-based climate tech company, raised $5 million in additional funding. Investors include Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund and Breakthrough Energy Ventures

- Imagine Impact, a Los Angeles-based content marketplace and social networking platform designed for entertainment industry professionals founded by Academy Award-winners Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, raised an undisclosed amount of Series A funding. Benchmark led the round.

- AirWorks Solutions, a Boston-based developer of autonomous processing software for aerial mapping and surveying, raised  $2.7 million in additional seed funding. MetaProp led the round and was joined by investors including Innospark Ventures, Creative Ventures, and Met Fund.


- DCP Capital Partners offered to acquire 51job (Nasdaq: JOBS), a Chinese human-resources company, in a deal that values the latter at $5.3 billion.

- Apollo Global Management is weighing an acquisition of Covestro AG (DE: 1COV), a German plastics maker, per Bloomberg. Read more.

- Sun Capital Partners invested in Mancini's Sleepworld, a mattress retailer serving the Northern California market. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- JMI Equity invested in Bloomerang, an Indianapolis-based donor management software provider to nonprofits. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- TA Associates agreed to acquire a minority stake in DOCU Nordic Group Holdings, a Swedish business intelligence company, from Stirling Square Capital Partners’ third fund. Stirling Square also invested and is the majority shareholder. Financial terms weren't disclosed.


- FLEETCOR (NYSE: FLT) acquired Associated Foreign Exchange, a cross border payments business. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Uber Technologies (NYSE:UBER) plans to sell a part of its $6.3 billion stake in Didi Chuxing, the Chinese ride-hailing company, potentially to investors including SoftBank, per Bloomberg. Read more.


- SoftBank Group plans to sell Brightstar Global Group, a U.S. cellphone distributor, to a newly formed subsidiary of Brightstar Capital Partners and plans to maintain a 25% stake in the subsidiary. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- MetLife (NYSE:MET) plans to acquire Versant Health, a Linthicum, Md.-based vision benefits company, for nearly $1.7 billion, from an investor group led by Centerbridge Partners and FFL Partners. Financial terms weren't disclosed.


- Kuaishou, a Chinese short-form video startup, plans to raise up to $5 billion in a Hong Kong IPO sometime as early as January, per Reuters. Read more.

- Unity Software, a San Francisco-based 3D video game development platform, raised $1.3 billion in an offering of 25 million shares priced at $52, above range. Investors include Sequoia Capital and Silver Lake. Read more.

- Nuvei, a Canadian payments-processing company, raised $625 million in an IPO. Backers include Novacap and Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec.

- JD Health, the health unit of Chinese e-commerce giant JD, is preparing for a Hong Kong IPO that could raise $1 billion, per Bloomberg. Read more.

- Oscar, the telemedicine startup, is preparing for a potential IPO in 2021, per Axios.

- Athira Pharma, a biotech developing Alzheimer's treatments, raised $204 million in an offering of 12 million shares priced at $17. Read more.

- COMPASS Pathways, a U.K.-based company developing psilocybin-based treatments for depression, raised $128 million in an offering of 7.5 million ADSs at $17. Investors include Peter Thiel.

- Palantir Technologies, the Denver-based big data company, plans to list on the NYSE on September 29.


- Reinvent Technology, LinkedIn Corp. co-founder Reid Hoffman and Zynga Inc. founder Mark Pincus’ SPAC, raised $600 million.

- XL Fleet, a Boston-based vehicle electrification company, plans to go public via merger with Pivotal Investment Corporation II (NYSE: PIC), a SPAC. the merger implies a combined enterprise value of approximately $1 billion.


- Ara Partners, a private equity firm specializing in industrial decarbonization investments, hired Tuan Tran as a managing director.