News and Commentary

Trump Says TikTok Must Be Sold By Next Month, Treasury Department Should Get A Cut From It
WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 03: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House on August 3, 2020 in Washington, DC. With enhanced federal unemployment benefits now expired, Trump administration officials and Democratic Congressional leaders continue to negotiate on an extension of the unemployment benefits and an additional coronavirus economic stabilization and relief package. 
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Donald Trump acknowledged having a conversation with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella over the weekend. During a meeting at the White House, Trump told reporters that any company seeking to acquire the Chinese video-sharing app TikTok would need to address U.S. cyber-security concerns and that a deal would have to be reached by next month. 

“I set a date of around September 15th, at which point it’s going to be out of business in the United States,” Trump said of a TikTok merger with Microsoft, reports Axios. The president added: “But if somebody else buys it, that will be interesting.”

The negotiation process between Microsoft and Bytedance, the parent company of TikTok, reportedly stalled after Trump strongly suggested Friday evening that the app would soon be banned in the country. On Sunday, Microsoft revealed that negotiations with Bytedance would continue following a conversation with the president. 

Trump has since placed an additional stipulation that the Department of the Treasury receive “a lot of money” from any deal, a provision which Microsoft alluded to in a corporate blog post over the weekend. 

Microsoft fully appreciates the importance of addressing the President’s concerns. It 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.

Trump did not disclose how much of a cut he envisions the Treasury department receiving from a TikTok acquisition. 

Although the Trump administration has alluded to actions against TikTok in recent days, lawmakers from both sides have expressed concerns about the social media app. 

“I have been very opposed to TikTok, I was one of the first to expose the Chinese links, and I have urged that TikTok be closed down in America,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told reporters Sunday, explaining that any potential deal could still leave questions about China’s influence over the app.

In the same blog post, Microsoft also revealed that it has explored the possibility of acquiring TikTok for multiple markets, including Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Trump has expressed that an American company acquiring TikTok as a whole, instead of only parts of it, would be a preferable approach. 

“It’s probably easier to buy the whole thing than to buy 30% of it. How do you do 30%? Who’s going to get the name? The name is hot, the brand is hot,” said Trump. 

According to CBS News, shares in Microsoft jumped 6% after the company confirmed, for the first time, the existence of negotiations to purchase TikTok. 

“In all, only about a third of Microsoft’s revenue now comes from its consumer business, and only a small portion of that is from direct sales to individuals,” reports CBS News. “Microsoft’s Xbox gaming system generated about $11 billion in sales last year. In short, TikTok would instantly lift Microsoft’s consumer business and boost the company’s growth.”

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