Microsoft has been vocal about its interest in buying TikTok operations in the United States from Chinese company ByteDance. However, despite seeming like a front-runner, Microsoft has confirmed it is no longer in contention. It seems ByteDance outright rejected the idea of Microsoft purchasing some of TikTok.
“ByteDance let us know today they would not be selling TikTok's US operations to Microsoft. We are confident our proposal would have been good for TikTok's users, while protecting national security interests. To do this, we would have made significant changes to ensure the service met the highest standards for security, privacy, online safety, and combatting disinformation, and we made these principles clear in our August statement.”
Microsoft registered its interest in the company back last month. The interest came following President Trump's decision to ban TikTok from the United States. An executive order signed last month stops ByteDance from handling any transactions in the United States. Trump's 45 days for that order to come into effect ends Tuesday.
As swiftly as Microsoft was in the frame it has been taken out of the picture. It seems ByteDance does not want to deal with the Redmond company. This appears because the company would prefer not to completely sell parts of TikTok. Instead, Oracle remains the only company involved and will become a “trusted tech partner” of ByteDance.
In other words, Oracle will not own TikTok operations in the US, but will control them for ByteDance. Whether this is enough to appease Trump's ban remains to be seen. It also remains to be seen if any deal will be complete by the Tuesday deadline. Either way, Microsoft is no longer involved.
What's clear is, Microsoft's interest was serious. In fact, the company was meeting with ByteDance before Trump's order, going as far as to sign a nonbinding agreement. Last month, Walmart and Microsoft reportedly joined forces on a joint effort to claim TikTok operations in the United States.
Before Microsoft announced it was no longer pursuing TikTok, a disconnect between ByteDance and Redmond seemed inevitable. Over the weekend, ByteDance said it would not include the algorithm for TikTok in any deal with another company. This alone may have been enough for Microsoft to leave the race.