Microsoft’s Statement on the TikTok Acquisition Fiasco

Microsoft’s entire statement:

ByteDance let us know today they would not be selling TikTok’s US operations to Microsoft. We are confident our proposal would have been good for TikTok’s users, while protecting national security interests. To do this, we would have made significant changes to ensure the service met the highest standards for security, privacy, online safety, and combatting disinformation, and we made these principles clear in our August statement. We look forward to seeing how the service evolves in these important areas.

Translation: “We’re embarrassed that we had anything to do with this circus.

Microsoft should’ve known better as soon as Trump started talking about “key money” payola to the U.S. Treasury, but they went into this acquisition bid treating it like serious business. But it’s not serious business — the whole thing has been banana republic nonsense from the beginning and the banana-y-ness has escalated each step of the way.

Now you’ve got China saying that a U.S. company can buy “TikTok” but can’t buy their suggestion algorithm. That algorithm is TikTok — and it seems clear that’s why Microsoft is washing its hands of the whole thing.

From the South China Morning Post:

ByteDance, the Beijing-based parent company of TikTok, will not sell or transfer the algorithm behind the popular video-sharing app in any sale or divestment deal, according to a source briefed on the Chinese company’s boardroom discussions.

With a looming US deadline for ByteDance to sell TikTok’s US operations, the source said: “The car can be sold, but not the engine.”

It’s not merely buying a car without its engine — it’s buying an engine-less car whose most interesting attribute was the engine. Who the hell would buy that car? Larry Ellison, I guess.

Sunday, 13 September 2020