It’s been over a year, but last year’s episode where Microsoft was interested in buying the popular social networking app TikTok, made a lot of techies scratch their heads. The deal surfaced after the Trump administration was threatening to ban the platform. However, the deal came to an end after ByteDance rejected Microsoft just before there was another messy Oracle deal.
Microsoft’s failed attempt to take over TikTok’s U.S. operation was “the strangest thing I’ve ever sort of worked on,” said CEO Satya Nadella at the Code Conference on Monday.
Truth behind the Microsoft-TikTok deal
Satya Nadella didn’t make it clear at the time, but a year later he explained that it did make sense. Microsoft’s biggest acquisitions since his arrival seven years ago were about building a community. Minecraft in 2014, LinkedIn in 2016, and GitHub in 2018; were all a part of building community, he said.
“First of all, you’ve got to remember, TikTok came to us, we didn’t go to TikTok,” Nadella said. Hence, when TikTok came to Microsoft, attracted to its efforts towards building a community, Nadella said that it made sense to him. “That gave us permission,” he said in an interview with Recode’s Kara Swisher at the Code Conference.
“It’s an interesting product.”
Nadella thought TikTok might have been a good fit as it was a social, cloud-based platform that efficiently leveraged AI. He said that Microsoft has the cloud platform, the security technology, and “the engineers to be able to take over a codebase.”
“President Trump, I think he had sort of a particular point of view on what he was trying to get done there,” he said. “Then it just dropped off.” Satya Nadella suggested that the U.S. Government eventually lost interest in enforcing the ban.
Moreover, TikTok’s U.S. operations never shut down. In June, President Joe Biden signed an executive order revoking Trump’s order to ban the app.
Nadella didn’t mention if he would still want to buy the app. “At this point, I’m happy with what I have,” he said. Although, he admitted that the Microsoft-TikTok deal was appealing because of the app’s technical design.