The events surrounding President Donald Trump's TikTok ban have been unfolding rapidly over the weekend. Initially, Trump wanted to force ByteDance to sell TikTok to a US company, only to follow up by saying that he prefers an outright ban of the Chinese social media app. He's since backtracked, as Microsoft announced that it's interested in the app's US business and would like to start negotiating. Reuters then followed up with an exclusive, stating that the president would give Microsoft 45 days to close the deal.
This latest turn of events comes following a conversation between Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Donald Trump, which led the president to allow the company to look into a partial purchase of ByteDance's social network. A Microsoft blog post reads, "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."
When the post was published yesterday, September 15 was 44 days away, which would be in line with Reuter's report saying that Trump only agreed to the proposed sale if it could be closed within 45 days. Reuter's sources further say that the September 15 deadline has also been set by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which checks deals for potential national security risks.
Right now, we don't know which implications the partial sale of TikTok would have — it's unclear if the network will be split into a ByteDance and a Microsoft version and how or if these will be able to interoperate. Microsoft only writes:
The two companies have provided notice of their intent to explore a preliminary proposal that would involve a purchase of the TikTok service in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand and would result in Microsoft owning and operating TikTok in these markets. Microsoft may invite other American investors to participate on a minority basis in this purchase.
The move would allow Microsoft to become a serious competitor for Facebook and Snapchat, as TikTok is one of the fasted-growing social networks right now. Even if the company only controls the platform in the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, it would still get access to millions of consumers overnight.