- Alise Talley
Check Out These Reasons Why Microsoft is in a Great Position to Buy TikTok
Updated: Feb 18, 2022
The internet is buzzing about the viral video app, TikTok.
Weeks ago, the social network was used mostly by teens and young people as a platform for dances, lip-synced songs, and 15-second humorous videos, but this week, it is the center of a national security debate.
Last week, President Donald Trump issued an executive order effectively banning TikTok to push for an American company to buy US operations from TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance.
TikTok fans can breathe a little easier because Microsoft is in a good position to save the app and keep it in the US.
How It All Began
Tech experts have raised concerns that TikTok’s security policy is invasive. Any mobile device that downloads the app gives the company access to personal information, like IP address, browser history, and location data.
As ByteDance is based in China, people worry their information will be shared with the Chinese government.
With the election looming, Trump believes the app can be used to spread propaganda and to spy on US officials in order to influence the results.
The executive order bans companies from doing business with ByteDance. This order was one of multiple that Trump has issued. In a similar order, he banned US companies from interacting with Tencent, another China-based app developer, and owner of WeChat.
Well, other than being one of the richest tech companies in the world, Microsoft is distinguished because it already has roots in China. In 1998, the company founded Microsoft Research Asia in Beijing for the purpose of investing in Asian engineers and tech developers.
Since then, China’s AI industry has boomed, and Microsoft has played a major part in its growth. Microsoft’s role in China has led to substantial AI innovations, for the country, and for the global industry.
One of the technologies that were developed through Microsoft Research Asia is a real-time translator of English to Mandarin that’s now a feature in Microsoft’s Skype.
Many of the engineers that worked at Microsoft now work in prominent positions of Chinese tech companies. ByteDance’s own CEO, Zhang Yiming, was a Microsoft engineer 11 years ago. Another higher-up at ByteDance, Hongjiang Zhang, who is now the head of technical research, was even one of the founders of Microsoft Research Asia.
Microsoft differentiates itself from the competition because they are compliant with the Chinese government’s policies. While tech companies, like Google, have refused to do business in China because of censorship laws, Microsoft has released censored versions of Linkedin and Bing in the country.
Additionally, Microsoft’s collaboration with Chinese engineers has led to an increase in cooperation between the US and China.
Although Microsoft has worked over decades to bridge the gap, tensions are now rising between the US and China. The two nations are battling it out to become a global technological superpower.
Out of the US businesses looking to make a deal, Microsoft would be the most favorable company to buy a share in TikTok, but forcing ByteDance to sell it will impact how the countries interact in the tech world going forward.