TikTokers are making an already bad relationship worse. The U.S. government wishes its citizens could just stop using TikTok. However, since they won’t, the government is arm-twisting the founders to sell it to American companies.
The world’s two biggest economies, the U.S. and China have been at each other’s throats. The two superpowers – yes, China has probably risen to that statue by now – have been sizing each other up for decades. Something that has been escalating faster with the current administration. And, let’s not forget the blame-game between the two of the current coronavirus global pandemic.
When the current administration came to office, they started sending ‘nukes’ over to China right away. Some of the earlier nukes came in the form of the introduction of new trade tariffs. Naturally, Beijing fired some of its nukes back to Washington.
TikTok enjoys over 80 million active users monthly in the U.S. market. A hard fact that is giving the U.S. government sleepless nights. But is it all witch-hunt or have the U.S. government taken MAGA a little overboard?
Well to be fair, Beijing has been caught a few times with hands right in the cookie jar. The Chinese political class has strong ties with some of the most successful global companies from China. Huawei is one of them and there have been several accusations from various stakeholders that it could be conducting espionage for the Chinese government.
We have featured some of these accusations against Chinese companies such as Huawei, and Lenovo in our previous articles.
U.S. Government wants TikTok to Sell or Ship Out
Just recently, the U.S Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs passed a bill, unanimously, requiring all U.S. federal employees not to install TikTok on their government-issued devices. The House of Representatives has also voted to ban the app. The full Senate is now next to sit down, deliberate, and vote on the matter.
However, considering the popularity of the app, especially with teens around the country. It is going to be a tall order for the U.S. government to stop people from using the app. Yes, it can legally stop federal employees from using it on their government-issued devices.
What about their other devices that they bought with their own money for their personal use? How will it convince the general population to stop using the app? Will banning it on app stores do the trick, considering the APK file can be downloaded somewhere else on the internet?
Those are some of the hard questions that the U.S. government cannot really answer. So instead of pondering over the right answers to those questions, it has instead decided to arm-twist the founders of the app – ByteDance – to sell off the app to an American company. ByteDance is a Beijing-based company. Hence, viewed with the same distrustful eyes the U.S. government views most Chinese companies.
Microsoft lining up to buy it
Last Friday, there was a meeting bringing together the White House, bidders (including Microsoft), and ByteDance. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss how ByteDance can sell off the app to an American company.
Microsoft, although already having a social media network LinkedIn, seems to be the preferred choice for the White House to acquire TikTok. That is compared to the case if a company such as Facebook or Twitter was garnering for the app. LinkedIn is a professional social media network, unlike Facebook and Twitter. So Microsoft would face less regulatory hustle compared to the two.
Other companies in the list of bidders include General Atlantic and Sequoia. In the meeting, it emerged that TikTok was being valued at $50 billion, but some executives at ByteDance believe that is little than the app’s actual worth in the market. The executives were also garnering for ByteDance to remain with a minority stake at the app. Something that was furiously protested at by the White House.
As it stands, there was no buy-off deal reached; at least not yet. However, the White House does not waste a chance to remind ByteDance that TikTok could be banned from the U.S. market. That in a nutshell is arm-twisting the company to sell-off.