Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Twitter is the latest to join the cast of the ongoing spectacle that is TikTok’s battle to stay open for business in the U.S., per a new report from the Wall Street Journal.

Why it matters: The saga to keep TikTok available to U.S. users is getting more complicated, with the company already in a President Trump-imposed time crunch and juggling a number of options.

Between the lines: Twitter’s interest is a tacit admission that it shouldn’t have failed Vine, a short video app it acquired that’s widely seen as TikTok’s precursor. Twitter shut down the app in early 2017.

  • Like other tech companies, Twitter has acquired a number of startups over the years, at times to gain their products and tech while others to gobble up talented employees.

The state of play: Here’s a look at Twitter’s product-focused acquisitions...

  • Vine: Acquired in 2012, the app for making 7-second looping videos exploded in popularity and created a generation of video stars who made entertaining videos with nothing more than a smartphone. However, as the company failed to figure out how to help these users monetize their popularity, they fled to other services, and Twitter shuttered the app in 2017.
  • We Are Hunted: Twitter quietly acquired the startup in 2012 and repurposed it into a music discovery app it released the following spring. Despite the continued popularity of music artists on Twitter’s main service, the company shut down the separate app in early 2014.
  • Periscope: Acquired in early 2015 before it had even debuted its service, Periscope became Twitter’s answer to live video-streaming app Meerkat, which had exploded in popularity during SXSW. Though the app is still available, it’s not longer as popular and its leadership has moved onto higher-profile jobs within Twitter.
  • TweetDeck: Three years after its founding, Twitter acquired the beloved user dashboard. Today it’s still available, though some power users have been grumpy about various changes over the years.

Yes, but: Twitter is now a 14-year-old public company that’s hopefully learned from its mistakes and TikTok is already a well-formed product that Twitter wouldn’t have to build from near-scratch. (Twitter declined to comment on the reports of talks with TikTok.)

  • On the other hand, it’s also unclear how plausible the transaction would be — Twitter’s own market cap is at about $30 billion, with around $7.8 billion in cash and short-term investments as of June.
  • The price tag for TikTok could be as high as $30 billion, per media reports.

The bottom line: TikTok has until Sept. 15 to broker a deal — per President Trump — so the clock is ticking.

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
Sep 18, 2020 - Technology

Scoop: How the Oracle-TikTok deal would work

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

An agreement between TikTok's Chinese owner ByteDance and Oracle includes a variety of concessions in an effort to make the deal palatable to the Trump administration and security hawks in Congress, according to a source close to the companies.

Driving the news: The deal, in the form of a 20-page term sheet agreed to in principle by the companies, would give Oracle unprecedented access and control over user data as well as other measures designed to ensure that Americans' data is protected, according to the source.

Biden: The next president should decide on Ginsburg’s replacement

Joe Biden. Photo: Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Joe Biden is calling for the winner of November's presidential election to select Ruth Bader Ginsburg's replacement on the Supreme Court.

What he's saying: "[L]et me be clear: The voters should pick the president and the president should pick the justice for the Senate to consider," Biden said. "This was the position the Republican Senate took in 2016 when there were almost 10 months to go before the election. That's the position the United States Senate must take today, and the election's only 46 days off.

Trump, McConnell to move fast to replace Ginsburg

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump will move within days to nominate his third Supreme Court justice in just three-plus short years — and shape the court for literally decades to come, top Republican sources tell Axios.

Driving the news: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans are ready to move to confirm Trump's nominee before Election Day, just 46 days away, setting up one of the most consequential periods of our lifetimes, the sources say.