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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.

Investors fear inflation, labor shortages in second half of 2021

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Investors entered 2021 concerned about the transition to a new U.S. president, the form of new fiscal stimulus, the distribution of vaccines and the reopening of the economy. Now, top risks include supply chain bottlenecks, labor shortages, inflation and slower GDP growth.

Why it matters: Stocks have rallied almost unabated for over a year, leaving many to wonder if the market is overdue for a big selloff. Last week's declines amplify those concerns.

Mike Allen, author of AM
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Trump works refs ahead of book barrage

Graphic: Axios Visuals

Former President Trump has given at least 22 interviews for 17 different books since leaving office, with authors lining up at Mar-a-Lago as he labors to shape a coming tsunami of Trump tomes, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Trump advisers see the coming book glut as proof that interest in "POTUS 45," as they call him, has never been higher. These advisers know that most of the books will paint a mixed picture, at best. But Trump is working the refs with charm, spin and dish.