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Thursday, October 28, 2021

Microsoft says failed TikTok acquisition was ‘strangest thing’


Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella has described the proposed deal to buy TikTok, under pressure from the Trump White House, as “the strangest thing”.

As President Trump threatened to ban TikTok in August 2020, the Chinese video app’s owner, ByteDance, approached Microsoft as a potential partner.

The plan was to force the sale of the US portion of the company due to concerns about national security.

TikTok eventually chose Oracle, though that deal also never materialised.

Mr Nadella admitted to tech journalist Kara Swisher at the Code Conference that when TikTok approached him, he was “kind of intrigued.”

TikTok was a “interesting product” and a good fit for Microsoft because it was a social, cloud-based service that used artificial intelligence, he said.

The backdrop to the potential collaboration was that then-President Trump had set a deadline of September 15, 2020, for the Chinese-owned app to sell its US business or be shut down.

Microsoft announced the day before the deadline that its offer to buy the company had been rejected.

TikTok eventually reached an agreement with Oracle and Walmart. However, after months of delays and legal challenges, Mr. Trump resigned, and the need for any sort of agreement faded.

Mr Nadella went on to say that President Trump “had a particular point of view on what he was trying to get there, and then just dropped off.”

The administration’s requirements “just vanished,” he added.

President Joe Biden revoked the executive order banning TikTok and another Chinese app, WeChat, in June of this year, putting any such deals with US tech firms on hold.

Instead, the US Department of Commerce stated that it would conduct ongoing reviews of apps developed in “the jurisdiction of a foreign adversary,” such as China.

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