TikTok is facing an uncertain future — and the popular app may be effectively banned in a few weeks by the Trump administration in the U.S. — but it’s still plowing ahead as if all systems are go.
Last month, TikTok announced the formation of a new Creator Fund to support creators who are building careers on the short-form video platform. That’s initially seeded with $200 million for the first year, growing to $1 billion in three years in the U.S. to reach “hundreds of thousands” of creators, according to the ByteDance-owned company.
On Monday, TikTok announced the first 19 recipients to get money from the Creator Fund. The group includes Spencer X (Spencer Polanco Knight), a beat-boxer from Manhattan who has more than 40 million followers on TikTok, and top YouTuber David Dobrik, who has over 20 million TikTok followers.
Others getting money from the TikTok Creator Fund include beauty and makeup influencer Avani Gregg (@avani, 24 million TikTok followers), comedian Ross Smith (@rosssmith, 11 million), photographer Alex Stemplewski (@alex.stemp, 9.6 million), and Brittany Tomlinson (@brittany_broski, 5 million).
A rep for TikTok was unable to provide information about how much money each individual creator has been granted. All TikTok U.S. creators will be eligible to apply for Creator Fund money when the application process opens in-app in mid-August. To be eligible, users must be 18 years or older, have at least 10,000 followers, have accrued at least 10,000 video views in the last 30 days, have an account “in good standing” and post original content in line with TikTok’s Community Guidelines.
“This Fund was created for you, for your creativity, your passion, and your tenacious spirit to connect with others,” Vanessa Pappas, GM of TikTok North America, Australia and New Zealand, wrote in a blog post. “We invite you to turn your creativity into an opportunity to earn a livelihood, pursue another career, or simply, to be rewarded for doing what you love.”
The 19 creators who have been selected for the first grants from the TikTok Creator Fund (by their TikTok account name) are: acooknamedmatt, alex.stemp, avani, brittany_broski, cheyennejazwise, daviddobrik, doctor.jesss, dreadknotwoodshop, feelgoodfoodie, heyeliza, justmaiko, lgndfrvr, lifeofadoctor, marstruck, mattgresia, onlyjayus, rosssmith, spencerx and tonyyounmd.
There’s a very real question, however, if TikTok will still be in business in the U.S. five weeks from now.
Donald Trump has issued an executive order that would outlaw business dealings with TikTok in the U.S. by Sept. 20 if parent ByteDance can’t close a deal with an American buyer for TikTok’s U.S.-based business by then. The president invoked national security concerns for the ban, noting that Chinese authorities could demand ByteDance fork over any TikTok user data.
Microsoft last week confirmed that it has been exploring a TikTok acquisition and Twitter reportedly has held preliminary talks about a possible merger with TikTok. Meanwhile, TikTok has threatened to fight Trump’s order in court and is reportedly set to file a federal lawsuit Tuesday challenging the move as unconstitutional.
Disclosure: Variety has received funding from TikTok’s Creative Learning Fund to produce content for the platform.