As Oracle seeks US approval for a landmark partnership with the short-form video app TikTok, experts say questions will intensify over Trump’s political relationship with Oracle chairman and co-founder Larry Ellison.
Oracle didn’t respond to requests for comment. The White House declined to comment.
Asked directly whether Ellison’s ties with Trump were a factor in the proposed deal talks, a person familiar with the negotiations insisted that it was “a business decision, not a political one.”
Yet Microsoft’s connections were no match for Ellison’s, said Eric Schiffer, chairman of the Patriarch Organization, a tech-focused private equity firm.
“Microsoft has done everything they could possibly do except show up at a rally with a MAGA hat to win this,” Schiffer said. “There’s no question that the conventional wisdom was that Microsoft was strategically positioned, having made great political inroads into the administration and having played the politics with Trump fairly well compared to most corporations. But not as well as Larry.”
Other experts said that while Ellison’s ties to Trump may have given Oracle an edge, the proposal at the end of the day must still adequately resolve the US government’s national security concerns.
Sources have described the proposal as stopping short of an outright sale of TikTok to Oracle, a detail that could conflict with Trump’s Aug. 14 executive order that called for a full divestiture, said Harry Broadman, a partner at Berkeley Research Group and former member of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, the government body that vets certain deals that could give a foreign investor control of a US business.
“Yes, Larry Ellison is friends with Trump, and maybe that will mean something, I don’t know,” Broadman said. “But there are executive orders out there, and people will be looking to see how this comports with what the executive orders say.”
Whether the Oracle deal passes security muster depends heavily on the specifics of the agreement, said Alex Stamos,…