October 21, 2020

Microsoft is reportedly in talks to buy social app TikTok

Satya Nadella speaking at the 2016 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

David A. Grogan | CNBC

Microsoft has held talks to buy the TikTok video-sharing mobile app from Chinese owner ByteDance, according to multiple media reports on Friday, citing unnamed sources.

A TikTok acquisition could make Microsoft, a major provider of business software, more concentrated on consumer technology, which Microsoft has moved away from somewhat in recent years, by exiting the smartphone hardware, fitness hardware and e-book markets. Microsoft bought LinkedIn for $27 billion in 2016. In 2014, the company paid $2.5 billion to buy game developer Mojang, whose Minecraft game is popular among younger users who also make up TikTok’s core audience in the U.S.

Chinese company Bytedance launched TikTok in 2017. The app has grown more popular during the pandemic, with 2 billion downloads in April, according to Sensor Tower. Competitors include Facebook and Snap.

Bytedance investors seeking to take over TikTok have valued it at $50 billion, Reuters reported earlier this week.

The rise of TikTok in the U.S. has brought the Trump Administration to scrutinize the app. Earlier this week Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said it was being reviewed by department’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. 

“We’re looking at TikTok, we may be banning TikTok, we may be doing some other things, there’s a couple of options but a lot of things are happening, we’ll see what happens,” President Trump said on the White House’s South Lawn on Friday. “We are looking at a lot of alternatives with respect to TikTok.”

Microsoft declined to comment on the talks, which were first reported by Fox Business Network.

“While we do not comment on rumors or speculation, we are confident in the long-term success of TikTok,” TikTok said in a statement on Friday. 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.”

— CNBC’s Alex Sherman,  Jessica Bursztynsky and Steve Kopack contributed to this report.

WATCH: Microsoft in talks to buy TikTok: The New York Times 

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