Last week, word broke that Microsoft was in talks to acquire TikTok amid threats of its ban in the U.S. because of its Chinese ownership. The story has evolved considerably since then, with President Trump most recently issuing an executive order that would effectively ban the app in 45 days. Now, former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates has briefly chimed in on the deal in an interview with Wired.
As part of a larger interview about pandemic testing in the U.S., Gates was asked about his thoughts on the TikTok deal. “Who knows what’s going to happen with that deal,” Gates said. “But yes, it’s a poison chalice. Being big in the social media business is no simple game, like the encryption issue.”
“I mean, this may sound self-serving, but I think that the game being more competitive is probably a good thing,” Gates said in response to a question about whether he was “wary” of Microsoft getting into the social media game. “But having Trump kill off the only competitor, it’s pretty bizarre.”
Going further, Gates said that the way the potential deal is playing out is “strange,” but the Trump administration’s request for a cut of any deal is “doubly strange.” Ultimately, Gates says, “Microsoft will have to deal with all of that.”
Following word about Microsoft’s interest in TikTok last week, talks were said to be on hold contingent on how the Trump administration would approach its rumored ban. On Sunday, Microsoft confirmed it was indeed in talks with TikTok, and that they had resumed after discussions with the Trump administration. On Tuesday, President Trump signaled that he would be okay with Microsoft purchasing TikTok as long as the deal is done by September 15.
As of August 6, reporting indicates that Microsoft is interested in buying all of TikTok’s global business. Prior to this, it was thought that just the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand markets were being considered.
In response to the ongoing efforts by the Trump administration, Chinese state media called the moves a “smash and grab” and vowed retaliation is the U.S. carries out its “theft” of a Chinese company. After the Trump administration issued an executive order that could ban TikTok in the U.S. should a deal not be reached, TikTok slammed the executive order, stating that it was “issued without any due process.”
Update 6: Microsoft wants all of TikTok, but Trump’s order may interfere
The Financial Times reports that as part of negotiations, Microsoft is now inquiring whether it can buy all of TikTok, instead of just the business in the US., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. This new plan would include India and Europe (and excluding China).
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