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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

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.

Exclusive: Biden administration raises minimum wage for federal employees to $15

A poster demanding a federal $15-per-hour minimum wage seen near the White House in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 26, 2021. Photo: Erin Scott/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Federal agencies are being directed to raise the minimum wages for government employees to $15 an hour, according to new guidance from the Office of Personnel Management shared first with Axios.

Why it matters: The guidance will impact almost 70,000 federal employees, most of which work at the Departments of Agriculture, Defense and Veterans Affairs. OMP is directing agencies to implement the new wage by Jan. 30.

Kate Marino, author of Markets
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

The Federal Reserve is open to creating a digital dollar

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Federal Reserve finally released a much-delayed paper yesterday opining on the pros and cons of developing its own central bank digital currency (CBDC), but without coming to any firm conclusions.

Why it matters: Around the world, there are now 23 CBDCs either in pilot or formally launched. They have morphed from a theoretical concept into real-world digital cash, changing the way governments and millions of people use money — but not in the U.S.