Ex-Activision CEO Bobby Kotick Wants to Buy TikTok: Report

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Bobby Kotick, the former CEO of gaming giant Activision, may see TikTok as his next act — that is, if a controversial bill making its way through Congress becomes law.

Kotick, who left Activision last year following its acquisition by Microsoft, has expressed interest in buying TikTok to both Zhang Yiming, the cofounder of its parent company ByteDance, and OpenAI’s Sam Altman, The Wall Street Journal reports, citing people familiar with the conversations.

As for floating the idea to Altman last week at a dinner during the Sun Valley conference, the Journal reports Kotick is seeking partners on a prospective deal. The Journal reports that OpenAI could theoretically harness TikTok to train its AI models.

Kotick is reportedly making the pitch as legislation is gaining steam in Congress that, if passed, would force TikTok to either sell to a US-based owner or shut down.

The proposed legislation was unanimously approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee last week. The House is set to vote on Wednesday, and if approved, it would move to the Senate. President Joe Biden has indicated he would sign the bill.

Kotick, TikTok, and OpenAI did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Business Insider.

The Journal pegs TikTok’s potential price tag at hundreds of billions of dollars — but Kotick’s conversations could be moot. A TikTok spokesperson told the Journal it sees the proposed bill as an effective ban, as selling to a US entity would be impractical and impair its global appeal.

Lawmakers want to ban China-owned TikTok for fear it could be forced to hand over user data to the Chinese government.

Kotick’s tenure at Activision was beset by some controversy. A Wall Street Journal investigation in 2021 found he’d known about claims of sexual harassment and rape at the company for years — and, in one case, intervened to keep a studio head who was accused of harassment.

A spokesperson at the time said the investigation represented “a misleading view of Activision Blizzard and our CEO.”