Bill Gates says Microsoft-TikTok deal a ‘poison chalice’; calls ban on short video app ‘bizarre’

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August 9, 2020 7:10 PM

Microsoft's Bill Gates is not wary of the company getting into the social media business with TikTok, if the deal goes through, and competing with the likes of Facebook.

Microsoft is now planning to expand its TikTok acquisition from the US to other markets including Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has called the potential buyout of Chinese short video app TikTok by Microsoft as a “poison chalice”. Gates said that being a big company in the social media business is not simple as he pointed towards the challenges social media companies have faced in the past with respect to moderating content on their platforms. “Who knows what’s going to happen with that deal. But yes, it’s a poison chalice. Being big in the social media business is no simple game, like the encryption issue,” Gates said in an interview with Wired. However, Gates is not wary of Microsoft getting into the social media business with TikTok, if the deal goes through, and competing with the likes of Facebook. Having more competition is “probably a good thing. But having Trump Kill off the only competitor, it’s pretty bizarre.”

Gates comments came nearly a week after Microsoft said, in a company blog, that it is prepared to continue discussions to explore buying TikTok in the US. On Thursday, President Donald Trump had signed an executive order to ban TikTok citing threat to the US’s economy, national security and foreign policy. In response, TikTok is planning to sue the Trump government as the action to ban the short video app is unconstitutional because it didn’t give the company a chance to respond and also that the reason given by the US government for the ban is “based on pure speculation and conjecture,” NPR reported citing sources. The lawsuit is expected to be file by Tuesday.

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Nonetheless, Microsoft is now planning to expand its TikTok acquisition from the US to other markets as well. The company had added in the blog that both companies will be exploring 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”. The software giant may invite other US investors to participate on a minority basis in this deal.

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