Last year, Microsoft’s near-acquisition of social media startup TikTok was the “weirdest thing I’ve ever worked on,” according to CEO Satya Nadella.
Because of national security concerns regarding the collecting of data from US users, TikTok was forced by then-US President Donald Trump to separate its US version from its Chinese parent ByteDance. Microsoft began talks on the prospective acquisition in August 2020, but the transaction fell apart by September.
Trump’s divestment drive had come to a halt by the time he left office in January, and no potential buyer had shown interest in TikTok.
Speaking at the Code Conference in Beverly Hills, California, Nadella said he was looking forward to bringing Microsoft`s security, child safety and cloud expertise to TikTok.
“It`s unbelievable,” Nadella said of the experience during an on-stage interview. “I learned so many things about so much and so many people. First of all, TikTok came to us. We didn`t go to TikTok.”
“TikTok was caught in between a lot of things happening across two capitals,” Nadella continued. “President Trump had a particular point of view of what he was trying to get done there, and then it just dropped off. The [US government] had a particular set of requirements and then it just disappeared.”
Nadella said what attracted ByteDance CEO Zhang Yiming to Microsoft was the US company`s services related to content moderation and child safety, developed through products included in Xbox video gaming tools and on business social network LinkedIn.
Nadella said he has no idea whether the US is still pushing for a deal under President Joe Biden. The Biden administration has said it is reviewing national security concerns.
“At this point, I`m happy with what I have,” Nadella said.
He also expressed support for greater government regulation of cryptocurrency rules, which could stifle ransomware attacks since the ransoms often flow through opaque systems.