BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA) — Walmart says it’s teaming up with Microsoft in a bid for TikTok.
TikTok, through its fun, goofy videos, has gained hundreds of millions of users globally. But the U.S. is pushing its Chinese owner to sell the U.S. business if it wants to keep operating in the country.
The Trump administration is forcing a sale of TikTok’s U.S. operations because of its Chinese ownership and has threatened to ban the app, which TikTok says has 100 million U.S. users, citing national-security concerns. TikTok, which is owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance, has sued to stop the ban, but not the sale order. Microsoft has confirmed discussions with TikTok; other tech companies such as Oracle are also reportedly interested in a possible acquisition.
Walmart released a statement confirming reports of the partnership:
“The way TikTok has integrated e-commerce and advertising capabilities in other markets is a clear benefit to creators and users in those markets. We believe a potential relationship with TikTok US in partnership with Microsoft could add this key functionality and provide Walmart with an important way for us to reach and serve omnichannel customers as well as grow our third-party marketplace and advertising businesses. We are confident that a Walmart and Microsoft partnership would meet both the expectations of US TikTok users while satisfying the concerns of US government regulators.”
TikTok, owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance, says it is willing to pursue a sale of its U.S. operations and has threatened legal action if it’s not treated fairly.
U.S. authorities are concerned that TikTok would turn over user data to Chinese authorities and that it censors content that would upset China. TikTok denies that it has shared user data with the Chinese government and would not do so if asked, nor censored videos at Chinese authorities’ request, and says it is not a national-security threat.
The sale situation has been unusual, with President Donald Trump demanding payment for the U.S. government for its part in orchestrating a deal, a step that experts say is unprecedented. The president said on Aug. 18 that Oracle was “a great company” that “could handle” buying TikTok. He declined to state a preference between Oracle and Microsoft as buyers.
Over past year, TikTok has tried to put distance between its app and its Chinese ownership. It installed a former top Disney executive as its American CEO — who left after just a few months — and also named two other Americans chief security officer and general counsel.
Microsoft and Walmart are already business partners, with Microsoft providing cloud computing services that help run the retailer’s stores and online shopping. The two companies signed a 5-year partnership in 2018, enabling them to join forces against shared rival Amazon.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.