Steven Mnuchin
Steven MnuchinEliyahu Yanai

Former US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday he’s assembling a team of investors to make a bid to buy TikTok, CNN reported.

His announcement comes a day after the House passed a measure to ban the Chinese-owned social media giant or force a sale to a US-operated owner.

“It’s a great business and I’m going to put together a group to buy TikTok,” Mnuchin was quoted as having said in an interview on CNBC. Even though TikTok is likely unprofitable, “it’s worth a lot of money,” he added.

Mnuchin said he would give existing US investors the option to roll over their stakes in TikTok but stressed that no entity would have more than 10% control. He declined to name any individuals on the team he’s putting together.

“There’s no way that the Chinese would ever let a US company own something like this in China,” he said. From his time in the administration, he said he’s seen evidence that having TikTok on your phone gives it the ability to “collect an awful lot of data.”

The measure which was approved by the House on Wednesday would prohibit TikTok from US app stores unless the social media platform — used by roughly 170 million Americans — is spun off from its Chinese parent company, ByteDance.

The House vote was 352 to 65, with 50 Democrats and 15 Republicans voting in opposition. It is not yet clear what the future of the bill will be in the Senate.

TikTok has called the legislation an attack on the constitutional right to freedom of expression for its users. It launched a call-to-action campaign within the app, urging users to call representatives in Washington to oppose the bill. Multiple congressional offices have said they’ve been flooded with calls.

Last February, the White House gave government agencies 30 days to ensure they do not have TikTok on federal devices and systems.

In addition, several states and cities have restricted TikTok on government devices, including the state of Montana, which passed a bill banning the app across the state, and New York City, which banned TikTok on government-owned devices in August of 2023, citing security concerns.