TikTok ban: How stocks for social media rivals Meta and Snap—and partner Oracle—fared on the news

On Wednesday, President Joe Biden signed the TikTok ban into law, finally giving owner ByteDance its Choose Your Own American Adventure: It must either sell the immensely popular video-sharing platform or see it get banned in the U.S.

The decisive power play requires the Beijing-based tech company to divest TikTok within 365 days. If it doesn’t, the consequences are that TikTok would be yanked from U.S. app stores. Both scenarios would shake up the tech scene, causing ripples that could impact the everyday business of major players stretching from Meta and Alphabet to Oracle.

But did TikTok’s terrible day cause rivals’ stocks to rally? Not really. Tech companies with competing platforms that stand to benefit from a ban are enjoying lukewarm days at best on the market. And the same goes for shares of TikTok’s very few close business partners.

Oracle and Microsoft

If ByteDance were to sell U.S. TikTok, analysts have flagged both Microsoft and Oracle as high-odds buyers. It was just four years ago, during President Donald Trump’s anti-TikTok crusade, that both Oracle and Microsoft—plus Walmart, in a random supporting role—came this close to getting their hands on TikTok. Their two competing buyout bids were made under pressure from the White House; Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella later called the whole saga “the strangest thing.” The deals fell through, but Oracle took solace in a massive data partnership it formed with TikTok instead.

Walmart was a “surprise” accessory, trying to glom onto the tech powerhouses’ bids. But that’s why the buyer, if there is one, could be a group that includes almost anyone (like, perhaps, the GOP’s biggest megadonor). Private equity money is even being floated: Former Trump Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin claimed just last month, “I’m going to put together a group to buy TikTok.”

Meanwhile, Oracle is also U.S. TikTok’s primary cloud vendor, suggesting that under a ban, its bottom line would take a hit. The cloud storage deal’s value has never been disclosed, though analysts have put it somewhere between $500 million and $800 million per year, and other reports have estimated it has—had?—the potential to clear 10 figures one day.

Probably for those reasons and a constellation of others, Oracle’s stock has been down all day, trading below the $115.43 per share it closed at on Tuesday. Microsoft’s is up just barely, in the $408 range—but for the record, about 24 hours ago, it introduced Phi-3-mini, a tiny new so-called “small language model” it claims is around 10 times cheaper than ChatGPT.

Meta, Alphabet, and Snap

If TikTok were banned instead of sold, 170 million users and up to $14 billion in ad dollars would go looking for a new home. On Monday, analysts at Bernstein Research argued the victor would likely be the winner of a “two-horse race between Meta’s Reels and YouTube’s Shorts,” adding that Reels looks better to them “given how much progress Meta has made building out superior features and functionality.” Social media is also familiar territory for Meta.

Yet on the stock market, the Facebook and Instagram owner has been down all day, below its previous close of $496.10, while Google’s parent company has waffled just above and below yesterday’s close of $159.82.

Snapchat has the most demographic overlap with TikTok of any social platform. But parent company Snap is currently down around 3%, trading at about $11.

What their collective underperformance may betray is Wall Street’s faith in Biden’s law—which TikTok promptly renewed its commitment to fight, and Trump now ardently opposes, reminding everyone that his Democratic opponent would be fully “responsible for” any ban. Even the Biden campaign itself spent Wednesday reassuring reporters it has no plans to bail on the app, noting the president’s team plans to use “every tool we have to reach young voters where they are.”