TikTok, Twitter held talks about sale of popular video app, says report

The social media company has reportedly eyed the Chinese-owned app, which has been feeling the heat from the US over national security concerns.

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Edward Moyer is a senior editor at CNET and a many-year veteran of the writing and editing world. He enjoys taking sentences apart and putting them back together. He also likes making them from scratch. ¶ For nearly a quarter of a century, he's edited and written stories about various aspects of the technology world, from the US National Security Agency's controversial spying techniques to historic NASA space missions to 3D-printed works of fine art. Before that, he wrote about movies, musicians, artists and subcultures.
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Add Twitter to TikTok's list of potential dance partners. The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday that the social network has had preliminary talks with TikTok about buying the US operations of the hugely popular, Chinese-owned video app.

On Thursday, US President Donald Trump issued an executive order that would effectively ban TikTok in the US. But since that order doesn't kick in until next month, it leaves open the prospect of a sale to a US-based company.

Microsoft, Apple, Google and Facebook have all been name-checked in the press as possible purchasers, and Microsoft has acknowledged it's pursuing a deal.

Trump and others say TikTok is a national security threat because it collects US users' data and its owner, ByteDance, is beholden to China's communist government. ByteDance has denied that the app presents any such threat.

It's unclear if Twitter will actually pursue a deal, the Journal said, citing anonymous sources. Microsoft is farther along in negotiations, the news outlet said, and being smaller, Twitter would have a tougher time raising enough money to buy the app.

A Microsoft-TikTok deal could be worth between $10 billion and $30 billion, depending on how much of TikTok the tech giant agreed to acquire, CNBC has reported. Twitter's market capitalization is approximately $29 billion and Microsoft's is over $1.6 trillion, the Journal noted.

But Twitter's smaller size could be an advantage, the social media company has reasoned, because it wouldn't be subject to the same level of antitrust scrutiny, the Journal said.

A marriage with TikTok wouldn't be Twitter's first foray into short videos. In 2012, the company bought startup Vine for $30 million, only to shut down Vine in 2016.

Both Twitter and TikTok declined to comment on the Journal report.