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Billionaire investor Frank McCourt is launching a bid to buy TikTok through Project Liberty, an organization he founded with a $500 million pledge. The aim of Project Liberty is to promote a safer internet where user data is owned by individuals rather than tech giants like ByteDance, Meta, and Alphabet. McCourt, known for his criticism of tech giants, plans to work with Guggenheim Securities and Kirkland & Ellis on the potential TikTok deal along with leading technologists involved in the Project Liberty initiative.

McCourt, who previously owned the Los Angeles Dodgers, has been investing in various sectors like sports, real estate, technology, and media over the past decade. He stepped down as CEO of his company McCourt Global in 2023 to focus on Project Liberty but remains as executive chairman. With an estimated net worth of $1.4 billion, McCourt aims to raise funds from foundations, endowments, pension funds, and the public to shift users’ accounts to a protocol that gives them more control over their digital identities and data. Competition for the TikTok bid is expected to be fierce, potentially coming from the very tech giants that McCourt criticizes in his mission to reform technology.

Throughout his entrepreneurial journey, McCourt has demonstrated a knack for longshot plans, stemming from his family’s deep roots in business. His diverse investments include real estate holdings in Dallas, Texas, and London, as well as ownership of sports entities like the Global Champions League and Olympique de Marseille. McCourt’s concern over user data ownership led to the creation of Project Liberty in 2021, focusing on research, policy advocacy, and technology investments to empower individuals to control their data and digital identities.

Project Liberty’s research arm collaborates with prominent universities to fund data ownership projects, while its advocacy work includes events and McCourt’s book on reclaiming liberty in the digital age. The organization’s technology arm has developed a Decentralized Social Networking Protocol (DSNP) to enable users to own their data across platforms. McCourt has invested in web3-based platform MeWe, leading a $27 million funding round in 2022. However, the economic viability of a decentralized protocol of this scale remains uncertain, though migrating TikTok users’ data to DSNP could bring significant changes to the initiative.

McCourt’s ultimate goal is to leave a legacy for future generations through Project Liberty, aiming to empower individuals and reshape the digital landscape. With a commitment of $500 million to the organization, McCourt envisions a future where individuals have more agency over their data and digital identities. The potential bid for TikTok represents a bold move in his quest to challenge the dominance of tech giants and revolutionize the way user data is controlled. Despite the challenges and competition ahead, McCourt remains determined to push forward with his vision of a safer and more user-centric internet.

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