Microsoft May Look To Acquire TikTok’s U.S. Operations: Report

The social media app, whose parent company is based in China, will reportedly be forced by the Trump administration to sell off its U.S. operations.


Microsoft is reportedly considering an acquisition of the U.S. operations for social media app TikTok, which is owned by China’s ByteDance.

Outlets including Bloomberg reported Friday that President Donald Trump will order ByteDance to sell off the U.S. operations of TikTok, amid national security concerns.

[Related: Microsoft Closes $26.2B LinkedIn Acquisition, Looks Toward Product Integrations]

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Charles Gasparino of the Fox Business Network reported on Twitter that he has confirmed with investment banking sources that Microsoft is “in talks to buy” TikTok’s U.S. business.

Gasparino tweeted that his sources “can’t guarantee a purchase but this thing is being shopped and one of the stops has been Microsoft.”

My banking sources say they are looking at it; can't guarantee a purchase but this thing is being shopped and one of the stops has been @Microsoft

— Charles Gasparino (@CGasparino) July 31, 2020

Microsoft declined to comment on Friday.

TikTok features short videos posted by users and has emerged as a hugely popular social app in the U.S. in recent years, particularly among younger users.

ByteDance has been under investigation by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. since last fall, amid worries that TikTok could be used by the Chinese government to acquire data on Americans, Bloomberg reported. However, the committee is also concerned about a potential Microsoft purchase of the TikTok U.S. operations, Gasparino tweeted.

SCOOP: @WhiteHouse through #CFIUS is "deeply concerned" sources say about @Microsoft purchase and whether any Chinese investors keep a portion in the US unit of @tiktok so expect a full and total review before any purchase is agreed to by Microsoft or another company

— Charles Gasparino (@CGasparino) July 31, 2020

On Wednesday, Trump said his administration was considering banning TikTok due to the national security concerns.

In a statement provided to CRN, a TikTok spokesperson said that “while we do not comment on rumors or speculation, we are confident in the long-term success of TikTok.”

“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,” the spokesperson said, adding that TikTok is “committed to protecting their privacy and safety.”

While Microsoft in the past has had strong consumer tech aspirations--and is a force in gaming with its Xbox brand--the company has shifted to focus on serving business customers in recent years under CEO Satya Nadella. In June, for instance, Microsoft announced it would permanently close its chain of retail stores.

The company does have a massive social media holding in LinkedIn, acquired for $26.2 billion in 2016, though the focus there is on professional networking.