Aug 1, 2020 - Technology

Trump has TikTok deal “on his desk”

Illustration of three dollar signs rendered similarly to the TikTok logo
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Trump "has a deal on his desk," whereby Microsoft would lead an acquisition of 100% of the U.S. operations of TikTok, according to a source familiar with the negotiations.

Why it matters: Trump Friday night said he plans to ban TikTok, as India has done, over concerns that the app could be sharing U.S. user data with the Chinese government.

What we know: U.S. presidents don't typically have approval or veto power over merger agreements. But this situation is different because of the involvement of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS), which has been reviewing ByteDance's 2017 acquisition of U.S. app Musical.ly and eventually merged with TikTok.

What we don't know: It is unclear whether the Microsoft offer involves participation in ByteDance from U.S.-based venture capital investors, some of which reportedly have had interest in helping carve 0ut TikTok.

  • It also remains uncertain exactly what Trump's "ban" threat entails, or under what legal argument he'd block a Microsoft acquisition.

My thought bubble: Microsoft was not among the Big Tech companies called to testify earlier this week in front of a House committee focused on antitrust, thus perhaps giving it more acquisition flexibility than a more natural TikTok owner like Facebook or Google.

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