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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Trump, who said Friday night that he'll ban TikTok, may allow Microsoft to buy the app's U.S. operations if there's "complete separation" from the original Beijing-based company, Republican sources tell Axios.

What's new: Conversations with Republicans over the weekend suggest a possible blueprint for making the proposed Microsoft deal palatable to the White House.

  • Microsoft promises a complete break from the Chinese parent company, ByteDance — not just data and servers, but also software.
  • What’s essential is there can be no lingering connection of any kind to ByteDance or non-U.S. TikTok.

Trump "has a deal on his desk" whereby Microsoft would lead an acquisition of 100% of the U.S. operations of TikTok, Axios' Dan Primack reported yesterday.

  • Microsoft seems to believe total separation from ByteDance is attainable.
  • Microsoft has the technical know-how/capabilities, money and global government relationships to pull this off.

Context: Presidents normally can't just order a ban on individual companies. But TikTok's foreign ownership gives the Treasury Department's Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States broad authority over it.

The bottom line: Look for the above formula to be the minimum.

  • People who have discussed the issue with Trump think he'd be fine with a simple ban.

Primack's thought bubble: Trump likely has a binary choice on TikTok: Shut it down, thus risking the ire of 100 million U.S. users just months from an election, or let Microsoft buy it.

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Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Nov 6, 2020 - Economy & Business

Chinese short-video and live streaming app KuaiShou files for IPO

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

KuaiShou, a Chinese short-video and live streaming app, filed for a Hong Kong IPO that reportedly will seek to raise $5 billion.

Why it matters: This reflects the booming market for TikTok-style services in China, as KuaiShou claims to have over 300 million daily users. Its rivals include Douyin (ByteDance's Chinese version of TikTok) and Nasdaq-listed Bilibili (which, like KuaiShou, includes Tencent and Alibaba as shareholders).

Exclusive: Jennifer Garner to be featured in Mother's Day vaccination campaign

Jennifer Garner. Photo by IngleDodd Media/via Getty Images

Actress Jennifer Garner will team up with the Biden administration in a coordinated campaign to encourage vaccinations around Mother's Day, Axios has learned.

Driving the news: The administration is eager to keep up the pace of inoculations now that all adult Americans are eligible but the pace of vaccinations is starting to slow.

Rideshare companies say driver shortage is pushing prices up

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

It's not just you: Uber and Lyft rides are more expensive, company executives said this week.

Why it matters: Demand for rideshare is roaring back as the economy starts to reopen, but the same can't be said for drivers on the apps. That means fewer cars on the road, causing a supply gap that's pushing up prices.