Update #2 8/1/2020 8PM ET: The Wall Street Journal is reporting that talks between Microsoft and TikTok are on hold due to Trump’s comments on Air Force One Friday night.
Update 8/1/2020: Late last night, President Trump signaled he would outright ban TikTok from operating in the US. Since then, ByteDance has stated it is willing to ‘divest’ its stake in TikTok’s US operations. Microsoft is still considered to be the US company to take over services. However, it is not known if the US administration accepts ByteDance’s new offer.
The Trump administration is reportedly considering an order that would force Chinese company ByteDance to divest its ownership of popular app TikTok in the U.S. Fox Business Network’s Charles Gasparino reports that U.S. companies are in talks to buy TikTok, with Microsoft’s name in the mix.
— Charles Gasparino (@CGasparino) July 31, 2020
According to a report from Bloomberg, the Trump administration could hand down its order “as soon as Friday.”
In a follow-up tweet, Gasparino elaborated that Microsoft “is probably the only big US tech co that can do the deal since the others are probably prohibited from getting bigger by regulators,” according to “bankers with knowledge of the matter.”
The order would come after concerns from U.S. lawmakers about the ability for the Chinese government to use TikTok to obtain data on American citizens. TikTok is owned by ByteDance following its merger with Musical.ly in 2017. As Bloomberg notes, President Trump has mulled banning TikTok in retaliation for China’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak.
TikTok has been looking for ways to distance itself from its Chinese ownership, seeking to reassure the public that no data is stored on servers in China and that the app operates independently. Bytedance even appointed a CEO formerly of Walt Disney Co, Kevin Mayer, to run its operations in America.
There’s no word on when a sale may emerge. However, we could learn more as soon as today. As always, it’s also worth taking rumors like these with an appropriately large grain of salt.
We’ll update this post with more information as it becomes available.