Frank McCourt, a real estate billionaire with ambitions to improve the web, said he plans to build a consortium to bid for social media app TikTok’s U.S. business.

McCourt, a former owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers and executive chairman of investment firm McCourt Global, is an unlikely contender for the ByteDance Ltd.-owned app. The U.S. assets were valued at US$35 billion to $40 billion by Bloomberg Intelligence analysts.

U.S. President Joe Biden’s decision to force TikTok’s Chinese parent to sell the U.S. app or face a ban, a law signed this year as part of a more hawkish stance toward China, has inspired a diverse cast of characters to talk up potential bids. Former U.S. Treasury Steve Mnuchin said he was “very interested” in the app, and Eric Schmidt, the former Google chief executive officer has said he also considered a bid in the past.

ByteDance, which is challenging the U.S. law in court, has said it has no intention of selling the asset. 

McCourt has been trying to rebuild social media through an initiative, Project Liberty, publicly announced in 2021 to take on Meta Platforms Inc. and other internet giants. He has given $500 million to the effort to date, the group said this year.

“We see this potential acquisition as an incredible opportunity to catalyze an alternative to the current tech model that has colonized the internet,” McCourt said in a statement on Wednesday. 

It isn’t clear that the project has secured any financing. Describing the effort to buy TikTok as “the people’s bid,” McCourt is working with investment bank Guggenheim Securities, legal firm Kirkland & Ellis, and a number of academics and technologists, according to the statement. The bid is also supported by Tim Berners-Lee, who created the World Wide Web. 

TikTok did not immediately respond to a request for comment.