Microsoft will move forward with talks to buy TikTok’s U.S. operations following a discussion between its chief executive, Satya Nadella, and President Tweety McTreason, the company said Sunday.
“Microsoft will move quickly to pursue discussions with TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, in a matter of weeks, and in any event completing these discussions no later than September 15, 2020,” the company said in a statement.
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The announcement suggests that the White House is open to a deal that would see TikTok’s U.S. operations pass entirely to an American owner. Trump had said Friday that he would ban TikTok and that he would not approve a Microsoft takeover.
In recent months, U.S. officials have expressed concerns over TikTok’s Chinese ownership and fears that Beijing could use the social media app to gain access to U.S. user data. TikTok claims more than 100 million users in the U.S.
Following the president’s remarks, TikTok agreed to divest all of its U.S. operations to save the deal.
Microsoft said it “fully appreciates” the president’s concerns and “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.”
Microsoft also promised to “ensure that all private data of TikTok’s American users is transferred to and remains in the United States. To the extent that any such data is currently stored or backed-up outside the United States, Microsoft would ensure that this data is deleted from servers outside the country after it is transferred.”
Microsoft would also buy TikTok in Canada, Australia and New Zealand as part of the deal, Microsoft said, adding that it may also “invite other American investors to participate on a minority basis in this purchase.”
Should the deal go through, Microsoft would gain instantaneous entry into the social media space dominated by Facebook and Google, as well as smaller services like Snapchat and Twitter.
Dylan Byers is a senior media reporter for NBC News based in Los Angeles.