Microsoft is in talks to acquire TikTok, the immensely popular social media app known for its fun short-form videos, in a move that could prevent the Trump administration from banning it from the US, according to reports.
The Seattle tech giant founded by Bill Gates is in discussions to buy TikTok in a deal valued in the tens of billions, according to Fox Business. The acquisition talks come as TikTok, which is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, has come under intense scrutiny by public officials concerned that the Chinese government is using the app to tap user data.
News of the talks come as Trump confirms that he’s looking at taking steps to ban the app in the US– a move that Bloomberg reported could happen as soon as Friday.
“We’re looking at TikTok,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Friday. “There are a couple of options but a lot of things are happening, so we’ll see what happens. But we are looking at a lot of alternatives with respect to TikTok.”
An acquisition would instantly turn Microsoft — a hot tech name in the 1990s that is now primarily fueled by its massive cloud computing arm — into one of the biggest names in social media.
“This basically fell right into their lap,” Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives told The Post. “While the FAANG names are up to their eyeballs in regulatory scrutiny, Microsoft could really gain a significant advantage if they acquire this asset.”
Ives added that a marquee name like Microsoft would likely ease any US concerns about TikTok’s relationship to China.
“Microsoft is as American as apple pie,” he said.
It’s not just Trump who’s concerned about TikTok. Joe Biden’s presidential campaign this week ordered staffers to delete TikTok off of their phones, while the House of Representatives earlier this month voted to ban federal employees from downloading TikTok onto government-issued phones.
TikTok has said it has never provided user data to China and that it would not do so if asked, saying in a statement that it has “no higher priority than promoting a safe app experience that protects our users’ privacy.”
The company last month tapped former Disney executive Kevin Mayer to be its US CEO.
And a group of US investors, including Silicon Valley big shot Sequoia Capital, were reportedly in discussions last week to buy the platform’s American business in hopes of lessening scrutiny on the app.
“While we do not comment on rumors or speculation, we are confident in the long-term success of TikTok,” a spokesperson said. “Hundreds of millions of people come to TikTok for entertainment and connection, including our community of creators and artists who are building livelihoods from the platform.”
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