Microsoft's TikTok Acquisition Bid Rejected; Oracle Still in the Running
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"ByteDance let us know today they would not be selling TikTok’s U.S. operations to Microsoft," the company said in a Sunday evening statement.
Several reports indicate that Oracle has secured the winning bid, but the company has not yet confirmed the news.
"We are confident our proposal would have been good for TikTok’s users, while protecting national security interests," Microsoft added. "To do this, we would have made significant changes to ensure the service met the highest standards for security, privacy, online safety, and combating disinformation, and we made these principles clear in our August statement. We look forward to seeing how the service evolves in these important areas."
Those principles included ensuring that data from TikTok’s American users would be transferred to and remain in the U.S. "The operating model for the service would be built to ensure transparency to users as well as appropriate security oversight by governments in these countries," Microsoft said last month.
The news comes after the Wall Street Journal reported that Beijing-based ByteDance, which owns TikTok, was refusing to sell or transfer its algorithm to any potential buyer.
ByteDance wants to sell the popular video-sharing app because President Trump has pledged to ban TikTok in the U.S. should it remain under Chinese control. Trump gave prospective U.S. buyers until Sept. 15 to hammer out a deal for TikTok before a ban goes into place. Oracle has been in the mix, too.
Oddly, Trump said last month that if a U.S. company acquired TikTok, the U.S. government should get a cut of the sale. “I said a very substantial portion of that price is going to have to come into the Treasury of the United States. Because we’re making it possible for this deal to happen,” Trump said. “Right now they don’t have any rights, unless we give it to them.”
Trump has not yet responded to the Microsoft news.
The concern is that China will use apps like TikTok, as well as China-based companies like Huawei and ZTE, to spy on its international users. The U.S. had not offered any proof of this happening yet, but they argue that if China demanded access to user data from companies in the country, those companies would have no choice but to comply.
TikTok has responded by suing the Trump administration. In August, Vanessa Pappas, TikTok's U.S. general manager, said in a video message that "we're not planning on going anywhere."