Microsoft confirmed it is pursuing an acquisition of at least part of TikTok, for the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand portions of the popular short video sharing service. Now however, the Financial Times is reporting that the company may be expanding its ambitions, and looking at also acquiring operations in Europe and India.
The report, citing “five people with knowledge of the talks,” basically backed up Donald Trump’s assertion on Monday that it may be “easier to buy the whole thing,” saying that one person said the difficulty of separating back office functions, as well as a desire for TikTok users to be able to use the same app as they travelled in different countries is leading Microsoft to explore a more wide ranging acquisition. Just to clarify, a Chinese company, ByteDance Ltd, owns TikTok, but it runs a similar but separate service called Douyin inside China. TikTok operates around the world, but not in China.
Currently, TikTok is banned in India, and has been since June of this year, although far more downloads of the TikTok app have come from India, with some 118 million this year alone, according to an Axios report. TikTok and its Chinese connections are not only under scrutiny by the US, but by Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, Indonesia, and Pakistan, according to Axios.
One person close to ByteDance’s Asia-Pacific operations suggested that Microsoft had been attracted to the idea of buying all of TikTok’s global business by the difficulty of separating back-office functions such as HR and to ensure that TikTok users in one country could still use the app if they travelled to another. Still, while buying “the whole thing” may make some aspects of an acquisition easier, because of the pressure put on TikTok by the US government and others, the deal may still be too complicated to pull off.
The report cites two sources as saying that a one year time limit on separating TikTok from ByteDance may be difficult to meet, with one source saying it may take “between five and eight years.”