Microsoft says it's aiming to close TikTok deal by September 15th

CEO Satya Nadella has talked to President Trump about the acquisition.

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TikTok closeup logo displayed on a phone screen, smartphone and keyboard are seen in this multiple exposure illustration. Tik Tok is a Chinese video-sharing social networking service owned by a Beijing based internet technology company, ByteDance.  It is used to create short dance, lip-sync, comedy and talent videos. ByteDance launched TikTok app for iOS and Android in 2017 and earlier in September 2016 Douyin fror the market in China. TikTok became the most downloaded app in the US in October 2018. President of the USA Donald Trump is threatening and planning to ban the popular video sharing app TikTok from the US because of the security risk. Thessaloniki, Greece - August 1, 2020 (Photo by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
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Microsoft added a dose of clarity to the reports of its impending TikTok purchase tonight, issuing a blog post that confirms it’s pursuing discussions with ByteDance. The company notes that CEO Satya Nadella discussed the matter with President Trump, and that it plans to solidify a deal no later than September 15th. The acquisition would mean Microsoft would own and operate TikTok in the US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. The company also added that it may bring on other American investors as minority stakeholders.

“Microsoft fully appreciates the importance of addressing the President’s concerns,” the company wrote. “It is committed to acquiring TikTok subject to a complete security review and providing proper economic benefits to the United States, including the United States Treasury.”

If Microsoft can successfully negotiate a deal with ByteDance, the company says it will add “world-class security, privacy, and digital safety protections” to the TikTok experience. And to be absolutely clear, there’s a chance these discussions may fall apart. That’s true for any high-profile acquisition, but this deal is particularly strange since it seems to be coming at the behest of a President who has talked of banning TikTok.

Still, Microsoft could add some stability to the mobile app in the US, where ByteDance has been criticized for having nebulous ties to the Chinese government. TikTok has vigorously pushed back against implications that it was under the thumb of China, and said that it would refuse any user data requests from the country. The acquisition could also be good news for Facebook, which is planning to release its own TikTok competitor soon.

Microsoft also says it’s aiming to “ensure transparency” with TikTok users while also maintaining “appropriate security oversight” by the governments where it’s operating the service. It’s unclear what the latter could amount to. Microsoft also claims it’ll keep private data from American TikTok users within the country, as well as make sure that their existing data outside of the US is deleted.

The company doesn’t plan to issue any additional updates until the TikTok deal is settled (or falls apart).

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