‘Strangest thing I’ve worked on’: Microsoft CEO on failed TikTok takeover
Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella has said that his company’s failed attempt to acquire social media app TikTok last year was the ‘strangest thing’ that he has worked on.
In August 2020, the then US President Donald Trump threatened to ban the short video app TikTok, if it didn’t separate from its Chinese parent company ByteDance and find a US buyer for the company, due to national security reasons.
In the same month, Microsoft was talks with TikTok for the proposed acquisition, but the deal fizzled out by September, when Oracle was chosen to provide cloud servers for the short video app.
“First of all, you’ve got to remember, TikTok came to us, we didn’t go to TikTok,” Nadella said at the Code Conference in Beverly Hills, California on Monday.
“TikTok was caught in between a lot of issues that they were having across two capitals, and they wanted to partner,” he added.
The Microsoft CEO said that TikTok initially wanted a cloud provider that could also offer security services. He said that he was ‘pretty intrigued’ by it as it is ‘obviously’ a ‘great property.’
But TikTok’s US operations were not sold to anyone and, in June this year, US President Joe Biden signed an executive order revoking the Trump administration’s order to ban the app.
“President Trump, I think he had sort of a particular point of view on what he was trying to get done there,” Nadella said. “Then I just dropped off. It was interesting. There was a period of time that I felt that the USG (US government) had some particular set of requirements, and then they just disappeared,” he added.
Nadella said that Microsoft was well-positioned to purchase or partner with TikTok, which reported earlier this week that it has a billion monthly users around the world.
Nadella said that Microsoft has the cloud platform, the security technology and “the engineers to be able to take over a code base.”
Nadella said what attracted ByteDance CEO Zhang Yiming to Microsoft was the company’s services related to content moderation and child safety, developed through the products included in Xbox video gaming tools and on the business social networking site LinkedIn.