The game around TikTok has been further sharpened. The unusual takeover negotiations between Microsoft and TikTok were already clear, but now President Trump is taking it one step further. He wants the U.S. Treasury to receive a percentage of the takeover amount.
“This is unacceptable and unprecedented,” says Marietje Schaake, technology policy director at Stanford University, about the ‘commission’ the president wants. “We’ve never seen anything like this before and it doesn’t work that way.” According to Schaake, the president here is acting like a “shadowy businessman” and seems to forget that he’s wearing a different hat
At the same time, it’s typical of how Trump has been involved in this case lately, says Schaake. Danny Bosker, takeover expert at accountancy firm KPMG, also says that how the president has interfered with the takeover does not happen very often, but fits Trump: “His reaction is very characteristic of how he is as a person.”
The US sees a security risk in TikTok; China could access US user data through its parent company. The company denies that this is the case, but for this reason the US wants the parent company ByteDance to relinquish the American activities of TikTok
Player of format
Where ByteDance is more or less forced to sell its Western success story, for Microsoft it means an opportunity. The company is big in the business market with cloud services, Windows and its office suite Office 365. With the purchase of TikTok, it becomes a major player in the social media market.
That for the software giant the interests are big, was evident from the blog post that the company published yesterday. In it, the company thanked Trump for his role in the negotiations. The blog is seen as unusual: normally a company does not speak out about ongoing negotiations. “Microsoft spawns Trump very much, you can see that in everything”, says tech expert Marietje Schaake.
The company also promised that the data of U.S. users would be placed on U.S. soil and destroyed elsewhere.
The negotiations between TikTok and Microsoft and the fear that the platform will disappear, in any case lead to strong emotions among users. TikTokker Sara Dol reacted frightened when she heard of this possibility. She has 2.5 million followers:
Joey Scheufler owns influencer agency Prappers, and he also hears concerns about what’s going on. Still, according to him, there are a lot of users who think they can take over the company. He sees two groups: one group that hopes for more views when America falls away because there is less competition and another group that fears not being able to see their favorite TikTokkers.
Plan B: switching
In America, TikTokkers are especially afraid of losing the platform, says Scheufler. “But even there you see big differences: many users think it’s a political game, and the U.S. government just likes to have TikTok in their own hands because of the advertising revenue.”
“Big creators in America are looking at a plan B: what if TikTok disappears? That’s why they call on their followers to follow them on other social media as well. But you can also see that TikTokkers are taking advantage of the unrest to send followers to their other channels.”
For the time being, no one is sure about the future of the popular social media app in the US. The fact is that Microsoft will continue to negotiate and that interests are high in order for a deal to succeed. The amount of money involved in the deal is unknown. Chances are that (tens of) billions of dollars are involved.