Word on the street - according to WSJ - is that Microsoft and TikTok-owner ByteDance were on the cusp of a deal for the software giant to buy TikTok's business (which encompasses all global markets except China) when President Trump's comment about barring the app from the US (which followed repeated hints that the administration was "looking into" some kind of action) prompted both sides to put things on hold, barring more concrete guidance from the administration.
It's reasonable to suspect that any deal for Microsoft to buy TikTok would require dependable assurances from the administration that Microsoft would be protected should lawmakers try to turn around and target Microsoft alongside Amazon, Facebook and Alphabet, as anti-trust probes into the Silicon Valley titans ramp up.
And, apparently, the "OK" has been handed down, because Microsoft, which has, until now, refused to comment on the record about the purported deal, has reportedly just affirmed that it's moving ahead with deal talks to potentially buy TikTok, which a private group of investors recently valued at $50 billion. The deal may involve outside investors from the US as well.
In sum: At a time when Congress is beating the tech antitrust drum louder than at any other time since the late 1990s during the landmark Microsoft antitrust case, the tech giant, which has a market cap of $1.6 trillion and already owns one social media platform with more than half a billion members (LinkedIn), is about to get even bigger.
To be sure, even with Trump's blessing, a deal with TikTok would still be a risk for Microsoft, should Democrats take back control and redouble their anti-trust efforts. But right now, with the administration threatening to drop the hammer, the company might be able to get a reasonably good deal.
Microsoft is now planning to wrap up the deal talks by the middle of September:
- MICROSOFT SAYS IT WILL CONTINUE TALKS ABOUT US TIKTOK BUY
- MICROSOFT SAYS IT WILL MOVE QUICKLY ON TIKTOK TALKS
- MICROSOFT SAYS IT WILL FINISH TALKS NO LATER THAN SEPT 15
- MICROSOFT SAYS DEAL WOULD ALSO INCLUDE TIKTOK IN CA, NZ AND AUS
- MICROSOFT SAYS MAY INVITE OTHER U.S. INVESTORS FOR TIKTOK DEAL
Earlier today, Sec Pompeo dropped the latest threats about potential action against TikTok, WeChat and other Chinese apps.