NEW YORK: Microsoft is in talks to buy ByteDance-owned TikTok, New York Times reported yesterday, citing a source.
Amid reports that President Donald Trump plans to order TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, to sell the social-media app’s US operations, Microsoft has emerged as a potential buyer.
In a statement to Business Insider, a TikTok spokesperson said, “While we do not comment on rumors or speculation, we are confident in the long-term success of TikTok.” Microsoft did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s questions about the reports.
It’s unclear whether Trump has the power to order a foreign company to sell its stake in a US business, or how the company might respond. The order seems to be an escalation of the Trump administration’s recent attacks on TikTok and other Chinese companies. Trump said earlier this month that he was considering banning the app, citing security concerns.
It’s also not clear where TikTok would fit into Microsoft’s business. Microsoft’s major presence in social networking is LinkedIn, which is aimed at working professionals.
Microsoft this week managed to avoid testifying at a congressional antitrust hearing alongside Facebook, Apple, Amazon, and Google.
Antitrust experts said Microsoft was absent likely because the company is focused mostly on business customers, helping it fly under the radar when it comes to the scrutiny that’s followed its competitors for the past several years. Acquiring TikTok’s US operations could bring Microsoft more under the microscope.