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The ‘he said, she said’ of TikTok-Oracle-Walmart

September 21, 2020, 2:39 PM UTC

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It’s hard to keep all the facts straight in the ongoing saga of TikTok. Even as Oracle and Walmart are set to invest in the short-form video company, the trio can’t seem to agree on exactly what kind of deal is in the works.

On Saturday, Oracle and Walmart released a joint statement announcing that the U.S. government had tentatively agreed on a deal. As part of that deal, TikTok Global, the new proposed company that is to be U.S.-based, would be “majority owned by American investors” including themselves, with four out of five members in its board of directors hailing from America. Trump seized on the fact as he announced his rationale for the tentative agreement: “It will have nothing to do with China, it’ll be totally secure, that’ll be part of the deal,” he said ahead of a campaign rally in North Carolina on Saturday. “All of the control is Walmart and Oracle, two great American companies.”

Buuuuut TikTok’s parent company ByteDance had its own statement as well, publishing an online statement in Chinese that appeared to contradict the assertion that TikTok will be majority-owned by U.S. investors. In a post addressing “unfounded rumors” around the TikTok tie-up, ByteDance wrote: “TikTok Global plans to raise a round of pre-IPO financing, after which Bytedance will control 80% of the company.”

So why is each party giving discrepant accounts on who will own TikTok Global? Well, according to Bloomberg, ByteDance will hold a 80% stake in the company, but, since 40% of ByteDance is backed by American investors, that can also translate to U.S.-based investors having a majority financial stake in TikTok Global. What this all means for voting rights is another story. 

What has made this entire situation even more confusing is a statement from Oracle EVP Ken Glueck, who said in an email after ByteDance’s post went public: “Upon creation of TikTok Global, Oracle/Walmart will make their investment and the TikTok Global shares will be distributed to their owners, Americans will be the majority and ByteDance will have no ownership in TikTok Global.” 

It’s clear TikTok walks a thin line between China and the U.S. in its deal to keep operations running in the States, and all parties involved are very strategically playing up their best sides to both governments. If the reports are correct, their assertions of the percentages owned aren’t incorrect—they just omit some details that would make the deal look a little less attractive in each of their home nations.

After all, ByteDance’s deal still reportedly awaits approval in China. It stands to earn brownie points from the Chinese government just as Oracle and Walmart do from Trump.

UNITY’S UNUSUAL IPO: ‘Tis the season of pumpkin spice lattes and unusual ways of going public. Shares of gaming company Unity Software surged 44% on Friday after it raised some $1.3 billion through an initial public offering. 

What made this particular IPO different: While bank underwriters usually take on the main role of allocating and pricing shares in an IPO (which has resulted in criticism over banks underpricing IPOs or offering shares to preferred banking clients to the detriment of the company), Unity directly took orders from investors. “We wanted to make sure that investors we wanted were on the cap table and that we had the same expectations,” Unity CEO John Riccitiello told Term Sheet on Friday. “We felt like we were in a better position to set price and choose investors through a discovery process like that than we would’ve otherwise if that same discovery had happened on the same he-said-she-said model where bankers talk to investors and they whisper back what they heard.”

This doesn’t necessarily cut out the banks. Riccitiello noted that underwriters still introduced potential investors to the company.

JOIN US: On Wednesday Sept. 23 at 2 p.m. ET, I’ll be moderating an online panel called “Entering Hypergrowth: Lessons from NYC’s New Guards with Braze & BigID.” Hope to see you there.

Lucinda Shen
Twitter: @shenlucinda
Email: lucinda.shen@fortune.com

VENTURE DEALS

- Chime, a San Francisco-based fintech, raised $485 million in Series F funding at a $14.5 billion valuation. Investors include Coatue, Iconiq, Tiger Global, Whale Rock Capital, General Atlantic, Access Technology Ventures, Dragoneer and DST Global. Read more.

- Next Insurance, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based insurance tech startup, is in talks to raise $250 million in funding led by CapitalG. The round would value Next at $2.25 billion. Read more.

- Scopely, a Los Angeles-based mobile game developer, is seeking $200 million in funding that would value it at about $3 billion. Wellington Management and NewView Capital are reportedly leading the round. Read more.

- Playco, a Tokyo-based mobile gaming startup, raised $100 million in Series A funding valuing it at $1 billion. Josh Buckley and Sequoia Capital Global Equities led the round and was joined by investors including Sozo Ventures, Raymond Tonsing’s Caffeinated Capital, Keisuke Honda’s KSK Angel Fund, Taizo Son’s Mistletoe Singapore, Digital Garage, Will Smith’s Dreamers VC, and Makers Fund.

- Mobile Premier League, an India-based esports platform, raised $75 million in funding. SIG Global India Fund led the round.

- Outschool, a San Francisco, Calif.-based K-12 education marketplace, raised $45 million in Series B funding. Lightspeed Venture Partners led the round and was joined by investors including Reach Capital, Union Square Ventures, SV Angel, FundersClub, and Y Combinator. 

- Osso VR, a  Palo Alto, Calif.-based VR surgical training platform, raised $14 million in Series A funding. Kaiser Permanente Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including SignalFire, GSR, Scrum Ventures, Leslie Ventures, and OCA Ventures.

- WireBarley, a South Korea-based remittance services startup, raised $10 million in Series B funding. Investors include Magna Investment, Shinsegae I&C, and Dt & Investment.

- Accelercomm, a Southhampton, U.K.-based-based startup seeking to speed up 4G and 5G, raised  £5.8 million ($7.5 million) in Series A funding. IQ Capital led the round and was joined by investors including Bloc Ventures and the IP Group.

- Ahana, a San Mateo, Calif.-based self-service analytics company for Presto, raised an additional $2.3 million in seed funding. Lux Capital led the round and was joined by investors including GV.

- Art of Sport, a Los Angeles-based personal care brand aimed at athletes, raised an undisclosed amount of funding. CircleUp Growth Partners led the round and was joined by investors including Mark Cuban, Lightspeed Venture Partners, BAM Ventures, Darco Capital and NBA veteran Wilson Chandler. 

PRIVATE EQUITY

- QuantiTech, a portfolio company of Sagewind Capital, acquired Dynamic Concepts, a Huntsville, Ala.-based provider of engineering and software services for human spaceflight. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Axia Women's Health, a portfolio company of Audax Private Equity, acquired Ocean OB/GYN Associates, five New Jersey-based OB/GYN providers. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- White Deer Energy acquired a majority stake in Unicat Catalyst Technologies, an Alvin, Texas-based supplier of heterogeneous catalyst products and related services.

OTHERS

- Saudi Industrial Investment Group and National Petrochemical Company, two Saudi Arabian petrochemicals companies, are considering a merger. Read more.

EXITS

- EQT agreed to acquire Casa.it, an Italian online real estate classifieds business, from Oakley Capital. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

IPOs

- Kronos Bio, a San Mateo, Calif.-based biotech developing therapies for leukemia and solid tumors, filed for an $100 million IPO. Read more.

- Shattuck Labs, an Austin, Texas-based biotech developing therapies for cancer, filed for an $100 million IPO. Fidelity, Redmile Group, and Millennium Pharmaceuticals back the firm. Read more.

- Spruce Biosciences, a California-based biotech developing therapies for endocrine disorders, plans to raise $86 million in an IPO. Omega Fund Management, HealthCap Advisor, and Abingworth Bioventures back the firm. Read more.

SPAC

- Social Capital’s Chamath Paihapitiya and Hedosophia’s Ian Osbourne plan to raise $2 billion across three new SPACs seeking to acquire tech businesses: Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings IV, which plans to raise $350 million; Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings V, which plans to raise $650 million; and Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings VI, which plans to raise $1 billion.

- FirstMark Horizon Acquisition, a blank check company formed by FirstMark Capital, filed to raise $300 million. The firm is targeting a tech company. Read more.

 

F+FS

- Lightspeed Venture Partners launched its Southeast Asia operations based in Singapore, with $4 billion.

- Morgan Stanley Private Equity Asia secured $398.3 million for its fifth Asia focused fund. Read more.

- Northern Light Venture Capital, a China-focused venture capital firm, plans to raise $375 million for its sixth fund. Read more.

- Kindred Capital, a London-based venture capital firm backing early-stage founders in Europe, raised £81 million ($104.2 million) for its second seed fund. Read more.