Thu. Apr 25th, 2024

Who is Jeff Yass? The billionaire donor with investments in TikTok’s parent company

By 37ci3 Mar13,2024



In the battle between TikTok and Washington, few people stand to lose more than American billionaire options trader Jeff Yass, who has emerged as a major donor to Republican candidates and causes in recent years.

Yass co-founded Philadelphia-based trading firm Susquehanna International Group, which owns a 15% stake in TikTok’s China-based parent ByteDance. Yass’s personal stake is 7%, worth about $21 billion.

Yass’s investment is in jeopardy today, and usually the press-shy billionaire is under fire from both the right and the left. Critics accuse Yass of making money an army of lobbyists and to orchestrate a a blatant pressure campaign Protecting TikTok, including taking advantage of its budding relationship with former President Donald Trump.

Through a spokesperson, Yass declined to comment for this story.

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives is expected to pass bipartisan legislation that would force ByteDance to divest from TikTok within months. President Joe Biden he said if he will sign it into law draft law Act Gains Senate approval.

“If the ban and forced sale come to fruition, it would be a huge blow to TikTok’s valuation and future,” Dan Ives, managing director and senior equity research analyst at Wedbush Securities, said in an email.

“It would be a nightmare for Yass, given the huge investment in TikTok, if the company were to be banned under the Biden administration,” Ives said. The effect will “have a 25% impact on the overall assessment”.

Susquehanna invested in ByteDance first 2012long before the company created TikTok and then merged it with a short-form video app called Musical.ly in 2018. As the app gained popularity, Susquehanna’s investment paid off.

Today, at least 150 million Americans use TikTok regularly, according to the company.

However, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle say TikTok’s growing popularity is part of the reason it poses a serious threat to national security. They allege that ByteDance’s Beijing-based engineers and executives are amassing dangerously large troves of data from tens of millions of Americans.

The House bill “is about ensuring that we protect the information of the American people and that our foreign adversaries do not target and use that information against our people.” That’s what happened, we know that for sure,” state Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, told NBC News on Monday.

The company said it keeps US users’ data secure and rejects the idea that it poses a threat to national security.

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew is expected to travel to Capitol Hill this week to meet with members of Congress as part of an 11th-hour lobbying campaign to stop the bill in the Senate.

Behind the scenes, Yass can also help shape the discussion around TikTok.

Great player

Jeff Yass is not your average billionaire who wants something from Washington.

Yass during the 2022 midterm elections He donated 47 million dollars Aid to Republican candidates and committees makes him the third-largest conservative political donor in America.

Yass described himself as one a registered libertarian and served for decades as a trustee of the nonprofit Cato Institute, a libertarian Washington think tank. A media representative at Cato did not respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

By all accounts, Yass’ No. 1 animating issue is “school choice,” a largely conservative movement aimed at giving families money to help taxpayers pay for private schools. There is Yass and his wife poured millions of dollars initiatives aimed at expanding alternatives to federal and state elections, as well as nonprofit organizations and public schools.

According to a person who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss Yass’s political donations, the Pennsylvania-born billionaire makes decisions about supporting candidates based entirely on their “school choice” positions.

The causes and candidates that Yass pays for have nothing to do with TikTok, at least not necessarily.

For example, Yass donated 6 million dollars supporting Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott’s re-election bid in December.

Abbott sides with Yass on “school choice” issues, but in 2022 the governor signed a deal. executor An order banning TikTok from government-issued mobile phones and computers.

Overlapping interests

Several prominent conservative political groups in Washington support “school choice” policies and also oppose the TikTok ban.

Growth Club is one of them. Great supporter School choice candidates and bills, the organization and related groups also worked hard to mobilize the opposition To the TikTok ban on Capitol Hill.

“Giving the government the power to ban apps and choose between competing apps is a major restriction on phone freedom,” David McIntosh of the Club for Growth wrote in an op-ed on Fox News last March. website.

During 2023, Yass gave $16 million to the Growth Action Club, a political action committee affiliated with the nonprofit.

on Friday, group Tesla CEO Elon Musk zoomed in on X’s post, where he agreed with former President Donald Trump’s unexpected opposition to the TikTok ban.

Trump’s appearance on TikTok came a week after the brief Met Yass and his wife. The former president told CNBC on Monday that their conversation was about education, not TikTok.

The meeting took place at the Growth Club donor He withdrew in Florida, a source familiar with the matter explained. During the retreat, Trump gave a speech praising Yass and McIntosh, according to Politico.

Trump’s flip-flop was especially surprising given that he was the first president to propose banning TikTok.

“TikTok has a lot of people who love it. There are a lot of young kids on TikTok who would go crazy without it,” Trump told CNBC on Monday.





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