'I'm a Patriot': US Employee Sues Trump Admin Over TikTok Ban

Drew Grant

Drew Grant is dot.LA's Senior Editor. She's a media veteran with over 15-plus years covering entertainment and local journalism. During her tenure at The New York Observer, she founded one of their most popular verticals, tvDownload, and transitioned from generalist to Senior Editor of Entertainment and Culture, overseeing a freelance contributor network and ushering in the paper's redesign. More recently, she was Senior Editor of Special Projects at Collider, a writer for RottenTomatoes streaming series on Peacock and a consulting editor at RealClearLife, Ranker and GritDaily. You can find her across all social media platforms as @Videodrew and send tips to drew@dot.la.

'I'm a Patriot': US Employee Sues Trump Admin Over TikTok Ban

Hours after Culver City-based TikTok filed a federal lawsuit against President Donald Trump Monday over his recent executive order, an employee of the viral video app separately followed suit. The double-barreled legal salvos are a strong pushback against the order and weeks of rhetoric against Chinese-backed technology companies.

U.S.-based TikTok technical program manager Patrick S. Ryan told dot.LA that he took action after becoming upset and uncomfortable with the order issued earlier this month to ban any "transactions" with the popular social media app over national security concerns. In his lawsuit, Ryan accuses Trump of violating his Constitutional rights and defaming and disgracing U.S.-based TikTok Inc. employees.

"These accusations (in the executive order) could only occur through the "actions, cooperation, and collaboration of U.S.-based TikTok employees," the lawsuit states.


The lawsuits come after Trump's August 6 order put a 45-day clock on a ban of the popular social media app, owned by China-based ByteDance Ltd. The Administration has pushed for ByteDance to sell TikTok to a U.S.-based company over national security concerns that it is sharing data with the Communist government.

"I am a patriot," said Ryan, who previously worked at Google and is a trained attorney and former law professor. "I am not building dossiers of personal information to blackmail federal officials" for the Chinese government, "that's an unbelievable accusation" in the executive order. He added: "It's not based in any fact, they're saying 'reportedly' (but) I'm in a position where I'd know if we were receiving regular instructions from the Chinese Communist Party as it says."

The ban on "transactions" feasibly includes preventing TikTok Inc. from paying its 1,500 U.S.-based employees their wages and salaries when it takes effect on Sept. 21, the lawsuit states. Many of the 1,500 employees are new, as TikTok expanded from 300 employees a year ago to five times that number today. The order also jeopardizes the immigrant visas of employees in the U.S. on H1B visas that require an employer to sponsor them, the lawsuit alleges.

Because the U.S. Department of Commerce doesn't need to identify what a transaction is until the day the order takes effect, it's unclear if it will exempt wages and salaries for employees.

The lawsuit is believed to be the first time an employee has sued the president over an executive order, according to Alexander Urbelis, partner at Blackstone Law Group LLP, which filed the complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief.

Urbelis added that "executive orders don't usually reach individual employees (but) he sees this as other employees do, as a direct threat to his salary and the ability to put food on the table during a pandemic."

And while the president has lots of leeway on national security issues, "his power is not boundless" and those limits are crossed when an executive order lacks foundation, Urbelis said.

Trump's executive order notes that any "conspiracy" to violate the order is prohibited, but does not elaborate further.

"What I'm doing right now, in talking to you, is potentially a conspiracy, according to the way that's defined," Ryan said. As for reassuring employees about their future paychecks, it's illegal as things stand for the company to "provide that indication, they'd have to basically say they plan to violate the law. It makes it very difficult for the company to do anything. The company recognizes in many ways the position it's in, they cannot reassure employees in any authentic way."

In a blog post published Monday, TikTok said that it does not take suing the government "lightly, however we feel we have no choice but to take action to protect our rights, and the rights of our community and employees" amid the "speculative" allegations. The statement adds that the company took "extensive" efforts to address the Administration's concerns about national security.

But that has done little to quell Trump's focus on the parent company. He issued a separate executive order on Aug. 14 giving ByteDance 90 days to divest itself of its U.S. TikTok operations. Trump has said he supports the potential acquisition by Oracle, though the company has reportedly been in talks with multiple interested suitors.

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LA Venture: Emilio Diez Barroso On Why Everyone Isn’t Cut Out To Be A Founder

Minnie Ingersoll
Minnie Ingersoll is a partner at TenOneTen and host of the LA Venture podcast. Prior to TenOneTen, Minnie was the COO and co-founder of $100M+ Shift.com, an online marketplace for used cars. Minnie started her career as an early product manager at Google. Minnie studied Computer Science at Stanford and has an MBA from HBS. She recently moved back to L.A. after 20+ years in the Bay Area and is excited to be a part of the growing tech ecosystem of Southern California. In her space time, Minnie surfs baby waves and raises baby people.
LA Venture: Emilio Diez Barroso On Why Everyone Isn’t Cut Out To Be A Founder
Photo: provided by LAV

On this episode of the LA Venture podcast, Bold Capital Partner Emilio Diez Barroso talks about his entrepreneurial journey, what led him to become an investor and shares the qualities he looks for when investing in companies.

Bold Capital is a Series A fund that primarily focuses its investments in deep tech and biotech companies. But, like other funds, they make excuses to invest in other companies every now and then.

“We're always interested in things that have the potential to truly transform how things are done and uplift humanity,” he said.

In his experience with investing in early stage startups, Diez Barroso said “humility and vulnerability are assets and qualities in the journey, and you don’t feel like you have to have it all together with your investors.”

Which is why he looks for people who have “this capacity to take full responsibility for how they show up and they have a vision and they have the willingness to go and execute it.”

In addition to his work at Bold Capital, Diez Barroso also runs two family offices which provide him with a surplus of knowledge in the investment space.

“I wear two very different hats,” he said, “and I invest very differently when I'm investing for myself, when I'm investing for my family, and when I'm investing for LP’s.”

But before becoming an investor, Diez Barroso got his entrepreneurial start when he arrived in Los Angeles. He admits that he failed plenty of times because unlike in Mexico, where Diez Barroso grew up, he didn’t have the same access to the contacts or resources of his family business.

“I would say yes to every opportunity that came my way,” he said, “I had started or partnered with someone and co-founded and most of them I had no idea what I was doing, so most of them really failed and a few got lucky enough to succeed.”

After learning how these startups worked and investing his own capital into several companies, he soon realized he was a much better investor than an operator.

“I think we're not all cut out for the journey,” he said, “and I don't think we should all be cut out for that journey. I think that it takes a very different character to start something from scratch.”

Throughout his own journey, Diez Barroso acknowledged that he struggled with his own identity and need to feel like the smartest person in the room. Once he better understood his own motivations, Diez Barroso was able to see that he was chasing the next reward, the next carrot.

“It's fun to close the deal and it's fun to grow the business,” Diez Barroso said. “But what I hadn't been in contact with is how much of my fuel was derived from trying to outrun the idea of not feeling good enough.”

Of course, he’s not alone. “I see a lot of entrepreneurs, activists all across fields and I can tell the difference when they're running from this fuel that is sort of very quick burning because there is an anxiety that oftentimes makes us narrow minded,” Diez Barroso said. “We are so attached to what we think should happen that we leave very little space for the possibilities.”

dot.LA Reporter Decerry Donato contributed to this post.

Click the link above to hear the full episode, and subscribe to LA Venture on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

This podcast is produced by L.A. Venture. The views and opinions expressed in the show are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of dot.LA or its newsroom.

Xos Receives Multi-Million Dollar Order for Armored EVs

David Shultz

David Shultz reports on clean technology and electric vehicles, among other industries, for dot.LA. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside, Nautilus and many other publications.

Xos Receives Multi-Million Dollar Order for Armored EVs
Xos/Loomis
The United States transportation sector is rapidly adopting electric vehicle technologies at every level. From aircrafts, to tractor trailers, to sedans and bicycles, no means of locomotion is off limits…even armored trucks.
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