A poisoned chalice: Bill Gates on Microsoft's acquisition of TikTok

Shubham Sharma
·3-min read

A poisoned chalice: Bill Gates on Microsoft
A poisoned chalice: Bill Gates on Microsoft

09 Aug 2020: A poisoned chalice: Bill Gates on Microsoft's acquisition of TikTok

Microsoft is moving progressively to acquire the US business of TikTok (at least) to prevent the company from getting banned by the Trump administration.

Now, Bill Gates, the man who co-founded the tech conglomerate over four decades ago, has chimed in, calling the still-unconfirmed deal a poisoned chalice for the company.

Here's more on what Gates said.

Comment: Won't be easy for Microsoft to step into social media

In a recent conversation with WIRED's Editor Steven Levy, Gates touched upon several topics of importance, including the potential deal between Microsoft and TikTok.

When asked what he thinks of the deal, Gates said, "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."

Competition: Deal will make social media segment competitive

Despite the challenges, Gates also implied Microsoft is doing what is right for the social-media category, where Facebook is the only dominant player.

"This may sound self-serving, but I think that the game being more competitive is probably a good thing," Gates said when asked if he was wary about the deal.

"Having Trump kill off the only competitor, it's pretty bizarre," he emphasized.

Reasoning: Principle behind this is 'singly strange'

Levy also asked Gates if he understood what regulation President Trump has invoked to force TikTok to sell to an American company (else pack-up) and then take a cut from the deal.

In response, the billionaire said, "I agree that the principle this is proceeding on is singly strange. The cut thing, that's doubly strange...[But] Microsoft will have to deal with all of that."

Progress: Microsoft is in advanced stage of finalizing the deal

Microsoft confirmed the intent to buy TikTok's business in the US, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand last week after Trump said he would ban it but then agreed to let the company stay if an American company acquires it.

The Redmond giant had noted that it is holding advanced stage talks with TikTok's parent ByteDance to finalize a deal (or not) by September 15.

Fact: Reportedly, Twitter also pursued discussions to acquire TikTok US

Along with Microsoft, Twitter has also had early discussions to acquire the US business of TikTok, reports have suggested. However, experts believe that the micro-blogging giant does not have the financial potential to outbid Microsoft and close the deal in under 45 days.

Executive order: Executive order already signed to end business with ByteDance

Notably, Trump has already signed an executive order that bans American entities and individuals from engaging in business transactions with ByteDance.

However, the order has not come into effect yet; it will be imposed 45 days after the signing date, which is just around Microsoft's deadline to complete purchase discussions for TikTok US.

So, if not acquired, TikTok and ByteDance will be blocked out.