President Donald Trump gave Microsoft Corp. some advice on its bid to buy the U.S. arm of TikTok, the controversial Chinese video-sharing app. On Monday (Aug. 3), Trump said it could be easier if Microsoft were to buy the Chinese-owned company in its entirety, not just a piece of it, and that Microsoft should pay the U.S. Treasury as part of the deal, CNBC reported.
“I think buying 30 percent is complicated,” Trump told reporters at the White House, discussing a conversation over the weekend with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.
“It’s a little bit like the landlord/tenant – without a lease, the tenant has nothing, so they pay what’s called ‘key money,’ or they pay something," Trump said. "But the United States should be reimbursed or should be paid a substantial amount of money, because without the United States they don’t have anything, at least having to do with the 30 percent.”
Last week, Trump told reporters on Air Force One that he opposed the deal and planned to ban the Chinese-based video sharing app in the United States. Trump, whose administration has claimed TikTok could steal U.S. consumers' personal information and share it with the Chinese government, said he could sign an executive order to do so because “I have that authority.”
But Microsoft said over the weekend that after Nadella's talk with and encouragement from Trump, the company is moving ahead with plans to buy TikTok's U.S. operations.
TikTok has gained a global reputation for lip-synching and dancing clips; 315 million users reportedly downloaded the app in the first quarter of 2020. TikTok owner ByteDance Ltd. has said it is willing to compromise to win over the Trump administration, including selling the app to an American company.
Zhang Yiming, ByteDance’s 37-year-old founder, told staff in a letter on Monday (Aug. 3) that the company is facing intense pressure overseas to sell its U.S. operations, The Wall Street Journal reported. “I hope everyone can maintain good morale amid the commotion and challenges,” he wrote to employees. “Trust that the company can make good decisions in complex situations."