A view shows TikTok’s office after the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill that would give TikTok’s Chinese owner ByteDance about six months to divest itself of the short video app’s U.S. assets or face a ban, in Culver City, California, March 13, 2024.

Mike Blake | Reuters

Kevin O’Leary is putting together a syndicate to potentially buy TikTok with an initial bid of $20 billion to $30 billion — up to a 90 percent cut from the company’s last funding round.

Any deal for the short-form video-sharing platform — valued at $220 billion in 2023, according to PitchBook data — is likely to exclude the algorithms based on user preferences that have helped make it so successful, the chairman of O’Leary Ventures said on CNBC’s “Street” Signs Asia.”

“It’s the largest entertainment and business network in America as it stands today, so it’s of great interest and great value,” he said on Friday.

But the Chinese government is unlikely to sell the algorithms, “so what you get is the valuable local brand TikTok and 170 million users, no data,” O’Leary said.

A potential buyer would have to “re-emulate” these algorithms with American code and act as a “steward” to transform the platform from “TikTok China to TikTok USA.” Hence the downgrade.

Earlier in March, the US House of Representatives voted in favor of a bill that would force TikTok owner ByteDance to either give up its flagship global app or face an effective ban. However, it it can take months before any TikTok-related legislation hits the Senate floor.

It also remains unclear whether the Chinese government will allow ByteDance to sell TikTok to a US buyer. The company lobbied hard against the bill.

Still, O’Leary said there was at least a 50 percent chance of the social media giant being banned and forced to sell early next year after the US presidential election, and he was preparing for that possibility.

Any potential deal would need the White House’s blessing given the national security implications. O’Leary said he has already discussed the issue with presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and plans to meet with Joe Biden, who is running for a second term.

The chairman of O’Leary Ventures also said he was in talks with other parties interested in joining the buyout syndicate and would seek government funds from April.

Separately, former US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has also expressed interest in buying TikTok.

“This is the most complicated deal in social media and I have to build a new algorithm,” O’Leary said. “It’s a very interesting deal and I like it.

TikTok did not immediately respond to a request for comment.