Microsoft in Talks to Acquire TikTok

Posted on July 31, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Microsoft, Social with 43 Comments

Multiple reports claim that Microsoft is seriously considering acquiring TikTok, the controversial social networking platform.

Fox Business, Bloomberg and The New York Times have all independently reported that the software giant is in talks to acquire TikTok. The talks come as the U.S. presidential administration weighs banning the app in the United States unless the Chinese-owned firm’s U.S. assets are sold to a U.S.-based company.

TikTok, for those unfamiliar, is a social-networking service owned by ByteDance, a Beijing-based internet technology company. It specializes in short-form, user-created videos. Or, as the Trump administration claims, is a national security threat. Somehow.

Microsoft has declined to comment on this story. But I think we can all agree it would be a horrible fit for this consumer service, even if the deal somehow passed regulatory muster.

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Comments (43)

43 responses to “Microsoft in Talks to Acquire TikTok”

  1. mebby


    ...are they trying to acquire a social networking platform?

  2. christian.hvid

    Contrary to popular opinion, I think this makes a ton of sense. Microsoft hasn't had a hit in social media since MSN Messenger, and that was over 20 years ago. This is one of the reasons why their brand is completely fading away in the minds of young people.

    Buying TikTok may not be cheap, and it may not have any relevance to Microsoft's core business. But it will give Microsoft an opportunity to show their logotype to teenagers a billion times per day. That alone justifies the acquisition, even if TikTok itself is a fad.

    What I don't get is the part about selling off the U.S. assets (presumably meaning the U.S. subsidiary). Does this mean there would be a Microsoft TikTok for American users and a ByteDance TikTok for everybody else? And if so, could they even be integrated with each other, given the alleged security concerns?

  3. Lyndon

    Trump doesn't want that to happen. The whole reason Trump is trying to ban TikTok is because he's angry some tiktok users punked him with fake rally registrations. His reason for banning TikTok is vindictiveness, so allowing Microsoft to aquire it doesn't facilitate this.

  4. digiguy

    these childish vertical videos are cancer.... hope the acquisition will make them fade away...

  5. karlinhigh

    a national security threat. Somehow.

    That's the same conclusion India has come to, they banned the service. All I know on this is what Ben Thompson tells me.

  6. waethorn

    Maybe Intel should buy them....

  7. brduffy

    To be fair, Donald Trump is not the only one concerned about TikTok. Joe Bidens campaign banned it from their staffers and other countries are considering banning it as well.

    • Lyndon

      In reply to brduffy:

      Have you ever used tiktok? There is very little to be concerned about national security wise in regards to content. Unless they're using it to hack your phone somehow, which I doubt they're managing to hack my iphone. There is not much in the way of easily harvestable information. You can maybe determine people like to watch short 15 seconds or less videos of people dancing or other silly, comedic, informative videos?

      • brduffy

        In reply to Lyndon: One of the problems discovered with TikTok is that they were not disclosing the fact that they were accessing the contents of people's clipboard. That issue may have been resolved but its certainly more concerning than viewing some silly videos. I don't deny that banning it is a political move, but its not a move being taken exclusively by the Trump administration and given the outrage so many people felt about the election interference of 2016 I find it funny that they are concerned about banning a potential security risk as both the Trump administration and the Biden campaign have chosen to do.

      • Stooks

        In reply to Lyndon:

        Lol. How about your location, you contacts, your clipboard, your DNS requests etc, etc, etc.

        The problem with the iPhone is that it is so locked down that hacks in the past were not discovered because security people can't figure out until like in the case of Whatsapp, people paid a price.

  8. jupast

    So they pass or are too slow on things they probably wish they had acquired (Twitch, Whatsapp etc) and they're actually interested in this flash in the pan fad?

  9. ponsaelius

    Looking forward to it's integration into Teams.

  10. madthinus

    Remember the outrage when countries like Russia demanded that data be stored in Russia. Well hello mr Pot.

  11. ben55124

    Tictok featuring mixer integration. Synergy! /s

  12. waethorn

    Smartphones and mobile apps are a security nightmare.

  13. waethorn

    If the government won't shut down Zoom, they won't shut down TikTok either.

    • Paul Thurrott

      The government was literally poised to shut down Tik Tok on Saturday. If you're looking for common sense and logic, you'll have to find a different government.
  14. codymesh

    why would Microsoft be interested in this what-so-ever?

    • ghostrider

      In reply to codymesh:

      It's trendy at the moment, and MS are still desperate to be seen as cool with the teens. If they buy it, and that's a big IF (Trump permitting), they'll no doubt re-brand it, botch it, and it will be dead in 12 months (think Mixer here).

  15. anoldamigauser

    Does TikTok make money? Can Microsoft justify the price for that revenue stream going forward?

    If not, it is a bad fit. If it does, then they can take a hands off approach and add another revenue stream.

    How many TikTok users know or care who owns it?

  16. SocialDanny123

    There is definitely potential in the advertising and sharing space. I can imagine that Tiktok will expand beyond music videos and it allows Xbox players to share 13 seconds videos of games.

  17. reefer

    Omg, no Microsoft... no. You are not a hip company and to aquire teen app fav TikTok will kill it.

  18. ibmthink

    Also a good way to kill it off.

  19. rmlounsbury

    This doesn't make any actual sense at all to me. I'm trying to think of how the technology could be integrated into the MS portfolio but I'm not complete understanding where it would fit.

    I also don't entirely understand why Microsoft would want to get involved with this hot mess either.


    ...Hey kids, do you want to TikTok in the US? You'll just need to buy a Surface Duo which exclusively has TikTok.

    Yeah, that must be it.

  20. beckoningeagle

    This is the best news I've heard all day. My daughter might stop using it now.

  21. simard57

    How is this consistent with their Enterprise focus?

  22. cavalier_eternal

    After buying TikTok they can bring back the Kin and have it just boot directly into the App. Maybe include a PlaysForSure music player that is only accessible via Cortana. It will be like a greatest hits of "what were they thinking?"

  23. bluvg

    Um, what? Microsoft, c'mon, you know better. You have a very checkered past with this type of thing. Unless you're buying it to kill it? Maybe this is part of the JEDI contract?

  24. PhilipVasta

    I'm tempted to joke about this, but seriously, what would the goal be?

  25. olditpro2000

    ....why would they even be considering this? For some bizarre Xbox integration?

  26. lvthunder

    Didn't people say this type of thing when Google bought YouTube? They might be buying it to keep it out of others hands.

  27. jhambi

    GitHub + TikTok = TikHub?

  28. mattbg

    Extremely strange, and would put them into direct competition with Facebook.

  29. brettscoast

    I can't see any conditions under which this deal could come to fruition. Microsoft shouldn't touch this with a 40 foot pole.

  30. AKAJoelReed

    I admit this is crazy. But I wonder if this could be a integration with Xbox. I could see a integration where when you press the share button on your Series X controller it uploads you 30 second game clip to TikTok.

  31. JerryH

    OK, so like others I can't find any reason for Microsoft to even consider this. What, they need this Vine clone to add short video's to LinkedIn?

  32. BigM72

    It doesn’t make sense. TikTok is flavour of the year but does it have staying power? If Facebook doesn’t buy it, they will kill it by integrating features elsewhere just like they did competing with snapchat.