Microsoft boss calls Trump-Tiktok deal “strangest factor” that was being labored on
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella speaks at a Microsoft press conference on October 26, 2016 in New York.
Don Emmert | AFP | Getty Images
Microsoft’s failed attempt to take over TikTok’s US operations last year was “the strangest thing I’ve ever worked on,” said CEO Satya Nadella on Monday.
Last August, TikTok was in talks to sell its US operations because the Trump administration threatened to ban the app unless parent company ByteDance finds a US buyer for it.
At one point, Microsoft was one of the potential buyers, but pulled back in September 2020 when Oracle was selected to provide cloud servers for the app.
“First of all, you have to remember, TikTok came to us, we didn’t go to TikTok,” said Nadella at the Code Conference in Beverly Hills, California. “TikTok was caught between a lot of problems they had in two capital cities and they wanted to partner with one another.”
TikTok initially wanted a cloud provider that could also offer security services, said Nadella.
“But I was pretty intrigued,” he said. “And let’s say it’s a great property, of course.”
TikTok’s US operations were never sold. In June, President Joe Biden signed an ordinance repealing the Trump administration’s order to ban the app.
Nadella said the U.S. government eventually appears to be losing interest in moving the deal forward.
“President Trump, I think he had a certain view of what he wanted to achieve there,” said Nadella. “Then I just got relegated. It was interesting. There was a time when I felt like the USG had certain requirements and then they just went away.”
Nadella said Microsoft is well positioned to buy or partner with TikTok, which reported earlier this week that it has a billion monthly users worldwide.
He said Microsoft has the cloud platform, the security technology and “the engineers to adopt a code base.”
Additionally, Microsoft’s ability to moderate content and keep kids safe on social media was also a draw for TikTok’s parent company.
“They know better about running social media that we know about either Xbox Live or LinkedIn,” said Nadella.
Nadella declined to say if he still wanted to buy the app, hinting that he was “happy with what I have”. However, he admitted that Microsoft liked the deal because of TikTok’s technical design.
“It’s an interesting product,” said Nadella.
SEE: What if TikTok was banned?