Why the TikTok deal is like Schrodinger’s cat

IF YOU WANT to understand the agreement between TikTok, a Chinese-owned video-sharing service, and Oracle, which sells corporate software (see article), it is useful to think of Schrödinger’s cat. Like the hypothetical feline of quantum mechanics, simultaneously alive and dead, the deal seems to be in two states at once—one hunky-dory to Beijing but fatally flawed to Washington, the other vice versa.

Take the question of who owns TikTok Global, the new company to be spun out of ByteDance, TikTok’s Chinese owner, to give the data of American users a secure home in America. ByteDance insists that it will hold 80% of the new entity. The Americans say they will control a majority stake. Oracle and Walmart, a supermarket titan which has joined in, will own only 20% of TikTik Global between them. But American venture-capitalists already own 41% of ByteDance. Apply the right maths and both the Chinese parent and the Americans own more than 50% of TikTok Global, which the deal values at $60bn and which is supposed to go public within a year.

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