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Microsoft said Sunday that it would continue to explore an acquisition of TikTok after discussing the matter with President Donald Trump.
The statement follows Trump’s Friday evening comments to reporters that he would take action as soon as Saturday to ban the app over national security concerns.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella spoke to Trump over the weekend, the company disclosed. “Microsoft fully appreciates the importance of addressing the President’s concerns,” reads part of the company’s statement. “It is committed to acquiring TikTok subject to a complete security review and providing proper economic benefits to the United States, including the United States Treasury.”
The company added that it would “move quickly” to pursue discussions with TikTok owner ByteDance — which on Saturday agreed to divest its U.S. operations of the social video app, per a Reuters report — and would look to complete the deal no later than Sept. 15. A deal, if it transpires, would give Microsoft ownership of TikTok’s operations in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand and may include other minority investors.
New of Microsoft’s interest in TikTok first broke on Friday after The New York Times and Bloomberg confirmed an earlier Fox Business story that the Washington-based tech giant was in talks to buy the app, which with over 2 billion global downloads has become one of the fastest-growing social media platforms.
Another scenario, first reported by The Information, would involve the U.S. investors in TikTok’s owner, ByteDance, acquiring the app.
A spokeswoman for TikTok declined to comment at the time, adding via a statement, “We are confident in the long-term success of TikTok. Hundreds of millions of people come to TikTok for entertainment and connection, including our community of creators and artists who are building livelihoods from the platform. We’re motivated by their passion and creativity, and committed to protecting their privacy and safety as we continue working to bring joy to families and meaningful careers to those who create on our platform.”
TikTok is owned by Beijing-based conglomerate ByteDance, and its Chinese ties have sparked growing concern over how it handles user data. Earlier on Friday, Bloomberg reported that President Donald Trump was preparing to order ByteDance to divest its U.S. TikTok business.
But Trump later indicated that he might go a step further and ban the app altogether. He made the announcement to reporters Friday on Air Force One as he returned from Florida. “As far as TikTok is concerned, we’re banning them from the United States,” Trump said.
TikTok has attempted to allay concerns by storing data from American users in the U.S. and Singapore. Earlier this year, it appointed Disney veteran Kevin Mayer as CEO based out of its U.S. headquarters in Los Angeles.
Microsoft said that, under the deal it is currently negotiating, it would “build on the experience TikTok users currently love, while adding world-class security, privacy, and digital safety protections.” It would also ensure that data for TikTok’s American users would be stored in the U.S. and that any data stored outside the U.S. would be deleted from from those servers.
Launched in China in 2016 as Douyin, TikTok came to the U.S. in 2018 after its acquisition of competitor Musical.ly. Since then, its growth has exploded. Users, many of them young, socially savvy people who use Instagram and Snapchat, are attracted to its infinite scroll of personalized videos and the ease of shooting and posting video clips. TikTok’s powerful algorithm can mint stars overnight and has been behind the rise of talent like Charli D’Amelio and Addison Rae.
2:30 p.m. Updated with responses from TikTok and Microsoft.
7:41 p.m. Updated with Trump’s announcement late Friday.
Aug. 1, 7:56: Updated with ByteDance’s offer to divest U.S. operations of TikTok.
Aug. 2, 5:28 p.m. Updated with Microsoft’s statement about plans to continue pursuing a TikTok deal.
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