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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Microsoft is working with Walmart on its efforts to buy TikTok's U.S. business from China's ByteDance, Axios has learned from multiple sources close to the process.

The state of play: The idea would be to help turn TikTok U.S. into more of an e-commerce app for creators and users, much like what TikTok parent company ByteDance does with a similar app in China.

  • The news was first reported by CNBC, which later said Walmart confirmed its participation.
  • The development comes just hours after former Disney executive Kevin Mayer resigned as CEO of TikTok and COO of ByteDance, with sources saying he'd been excluded by ByteDance from the takeover talks.
  • There is not yet a signed agreement between Microsoft and ByteDance, as the sides technically have until Sept. 15 to submit a deal proposal to the White House for approval.
  • Conversations continue to only center on TikTok's operations in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Between the lines: It's possible that Walmart also has had discussions with Oracle, which also continues to negotiate with ByteDance.

  • SoftBank Group is not involved in the Microsoft/Walmart effort, although the Japanese firm has made inquiries to ByteDance, per sources.

The bottom line: Walmart adds more financial firepower and e-commerce know-how to Microsoft's efforts. But Walmart also has a significant presence in China, which could complicate Microsoft and ByteDance's efforts to get a deal through the Trump administration.

Go deeper

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
Nov 10, 2020 - Economy & Business

Robots vs. retail workers

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

For years, retail has been lurching toward automation. Last week, Walmart took a significant step back.

Why it matters: In a rare win for retail workers, Walmart decided to take shelf-scanning robots out of its stores in favor of humans. But automation is still coming faster for retail jobs than for most other occupations, experts say.

Salesforce rolls the dice on Slack

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Salesforce's likely acquisition of workplace messaging service Slack — not yet a done deal but widely anticipated to be announced Tuesday afternoon — represents a big gamble for everyone involved.

For Slack, challenged by competition from Microsoft, the bet is that a deeper-pocketed owner like Salesforce, with wide experience selling into large companies, will help the bottom line.

FBI stats show border cities are among the safest

Data: FBI, Kansas Bureau of Investigation; Note: This table includes the eight largest communities on the U.S.-Mexico border and eight other U.S. cities similar in population size and demographics; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

U.S. communities along the Mexico border are among the safest in America, with some border cities holding crime rates well below the national average, FBI statistics show.

Why it matters: The latest crime data collected by the FBI from 2019 contradicts the narrative by President Trump and others that the U.S.-Mexico border is a "lawless" region suffering from violence and mayhem.