Trump says govt should get slice of any Microsoft-TikTok deal
The US government should get a cut from any sale of TikTok to Microsoft, President Donald Trump said, as the video-sharing social media app became embroiled in the China-US geopolitical spat.
Trump added that the tech giant would need to strike a deal by September 15 or he would ban the app, made by Chinese company ByteDance.
Microsoft said that after a conversation between its chief executive Satya Nadella and Trump, it would accelerate talks with ByteDance, for its US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand operations.
Trump claimed he also demanded a "substantial portion" of the purchase price in a phone call at the weekend with Nadella.
ByteDance is under pressure to sell the assets as Trump threatened a crackdown on Chinese tech companies, which he accused of providing data to the Chinese government – charges denied by Beijing and TikTok.
"The United States should get a very large percentage of that price, because we're making it possible," Trump said.
TikTok's US operations "will close down on September 15 unless Microsoft or somebody else is able to buy it and work out a deal, an appropriate deal so the Treasury… of the United States gets a lot of money," he said.
The UK is also a member of the alliance and there has been speculation that TikTok could base its global headquarters in London, joining tech giants such as Google which has a major presence in the capital.
ByteDance said: "ByteDance is committed to being a global company. In light of the current situation, ByteDance has been evaluating the possibility of establishing TikTok's headquarters outside of the US, to better serve our global users."
Connor Campbell of Spreadex said what actually happened with TikTok was "less important than the fact Trump went after the company – a soft way to attack China via a service that is becoming an increasingly prominent part of American teenage life".
"Though it isn’t as traditional as closing the consulate in Houston, it is another needling move by the President ahead of November’s election, designed to draw focus away from domestic issues."
Trump's poll ratings have nosedived over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, where he has made several erroneous claims about testing and misjudged the public mood over protests over the death of George Floyd while being arrested by Minneapolis police.
He was also embarrassed when thousands of TikTok users registered for tickets to a Trump rally in Tulsa Oklahoma in June and then didn't attend, leaving the 19,000 seat venue less than a third full.