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27 Aug, 2020 17:39

Microsoft joined by Walmart in grab for TikTok as tech platform’s CEO jumps ship

Microsoft joined by Walmart in grab for TikTok as tech platform’s CEO jumps ship

Walmart is joining Microsoft in its bid to acquire the US, Canadian and Australian operations of Chinese social media platform TikTok – a move that could help the retailer better compete against major player and rival Amazon.

The big-box retailer confirmed on Thursday that it’s climbing on board with software giant Microsoft in the company’s bid to acquire TikTok’s operations in four countries. TikTok owner ByteDance has been pressured to sell its blockbuster micro-vlogging platform for weeks by the Trump administration, which is threatening to ban the social network entirely in the US if the Chinese company doesn’t turn over at least its US operations to an American firm – and cut the US government in on the profit.

Also on rt.com TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer steps down amid feud with Trump administration

Walmart is hoping participating in the TikTok acquisition could give it a competitive leg up against e-commerce giant Amazon. The big-box behemoth plans to launch a membership program dubbed Walmart+ to compete with Amazon Prime, though the company’s CEO has not explained exactly what services Walmart+ would offer to set itself apart from its competitors, other than speeding up deliveries and “collecting valuable data” – arguably more of a downside than a plus for many consumers.

The Microsoft-Walmart consortium is competing against a handful of other companies for the privilege of dominating the social lives of the American teenagers who form TikTok’s primary user base, including fellow tech giant Oracle. The deal is expected to close for between $20 and $30 billion, according to sources cited by CNBC.

TikTok has sued the Trump administration, arguing the president’s threatened ban is not based on a legitimate “national emergency” and that no one has even attempted to prove the platform’s activities pose “an unusual and extraordinary threat,” as required by US law. ByteDance claimed instead that the proposed ban was part of an election-season effort to ramp up jingoistic anti-China sentiment.

Also on rt.com ‘We simply have no choice’: TikTok officially sues Trump administration over ban threat

ByteDance has until September 20 to sell TikTok, under an order that invoked the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. Trump claimed the platform “continues to threaten the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States,” citing the potential for Chinese authorities to require TikTok to give up user data. However, as the Chinese firm has pointed out, its American data is stored on servers in the US and Singapore.

TikTok has some 91 million monthly active US users as of June and 1,500 US employees. In the lawsuit, it claimed it was planning to hire 10,000 more Americans. TikTok’s CEO Kevin Mayer quit the company on Thursday, citing the political pressure to sell out at bargain-basement prices.

The Trump administration does not have a preference as to who ultimately purchases TikTok, White House adviser Larry Kudlow affirmed to Politico on Thursday.

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