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Microsoft is reportedly in talks to buy TikTok's US operations (www.businessinsider.com)
293 points by sandGorgon 5 days ago | hide | past | web | 505 comments | favorite





I think it's a clever play.

It would help address the spyware concern by moving it to a US company, and give them a better foothold in Social Networking than Linked-in provides.

I'd have a few concerns about if MS can keep it growing-

For one, I worry that Microsoft may mismanage it, similar to how they treated Skype. We saw Yahoo buy many reasonable smaller social networks (Flickr, Delicious, Tumblr) and was never able to make it work. Microsoft has seemed to get better at acquisions lately though, so they may be able to pull it off.

The other concern is that youth-based social networks tend to have a short half-life; Snap isn't exactly taking over the world anymore.

But personally, I absolutely think it'd be worth the gamble. The price is relatively low (just over 1 quarter of revenue), and if they can keep it going it's a good hedge against FB, if nothing else.


>It would help address the spyware concern by moving it to a US company

it might help for some people

Personally, i'm a little bit concerned that microsoft just received a $10bn DOD contract, and now the US government is essentially forcing a sale of TikTok to Microsoft. I'm not convinced that the company running the hot new social network (as well as all our source code) owing a bunch of favours to the US govermnent is really any better than it being subject to the Chinese government.


I thought we trusted the government to be a good steward over tech? Wasn’t that the entire purpose of the dog and pony show with tech CEOs earlier this week?

IMHO anything with more than 400 million users is very hard to fuck up as a platform. You can fuck up the product in many ways but you will preserve the strong network effects.

Yahoo was also an incompetent operator with almost no solid business criteria or long term strategy. For 15 years or more Yahoo was simply a wannabe Google and never managed to find their business character.

I mean, it’s almost criminal to compare the performance of Microsoft vs Yahoo as operators. They are in different leagues.


It's better as in the US government isn't a model citizen but it's also not disappearing citizens, enslaving ethnic groups, selling organs from political prisoners, or trying to take over the South China Sea.

A company occasionally working together with the US government is very different than China's state-run companies.

you're right. for me personally, i think it's much worse.

the odds that chinese goverment data collection ever affects me is minimal. as a canadian citizen who sometimes visits the US and routinely uses services provided by american companies, the odds that US government data collection affects me in some way is pretty high.


Indeed the US data collection can have a much deeper and more immediate negative effect on Canadians' lives.

https://globalnews.ca/news/4461315/will-your-cannabis-credit...


Which ByteDance is not.

> It would help address the spyware concern by moving it to a US company

Does anyone else remember when housing data in US severs was considered less private than alternatives? It’s incredible that Azure, and the rest of the us based cloud providers, have been able to rebrand American severs as the cloud so successfully that they are well known for being secure and safe.


> Does anyone else remember when housing data in US severs was considered less private than alternatives?

Right now much of Europe considers storing data in the US to be less private than hosting it locally. The US is certainly not in the same category as Russia or China, but it's not great either.


Canada too.

Even so, Canadians trust Americans far more than the Chinese. If they move everything over then it may stop mass bans across the West.

That’s probably true for the general population, but not so much for our privacy legislation. Certain categories of data, for some provincial governments, absolutely must reside in Canada and can’t be hosted in the US. Among the various reasons is the Patriot Act. Canadian laws specify certain circumstances in which a data breach must be disclosed to the user, and the Patriot Act (via NSLs) can mandate that the breach not be disclosed to the user. Canadian companies hosting their data in the US cannot simultaneously comply with the law in both countries.

I don't think anyone with knowledge has ever seriously conisdered servers in China more private than US servers. Unless your goal was to keep information private only from the US government.

Every major cloud vendor has zones outside the US. Just because you’re hosted on Azure doesn’t mean you’re hosted in the US or that US law applies to you.

My understanding of the 2018 CLOUD act is that a US headquartered cloud vendor must hand over subpoenaed customer data even if the datacentre is outside the USA.

https://www.dlapiper.com/en/us/insights/publications/2018/04...


This is the rationale between sovereign clouds like Azure Germany, I think. In that case Microsoft provides the software and design, but the whole cloud is operated by EU citizens and no Americans have direct access. The idea being that Microsoft couldn't be compelled to hand over data because it has no access. I'm sure AWS (and maybe GCP) have such things by now.

Disclaimer: I work in Azure but not on this, so my info may be wrong.


This is totally irrelevant to the discussion but I found it amusing that the author of that articles name is Jim Halpert and actually very mildly looks like Jim Halpert

TIL. This is crazy

Indeed. This (CLOUD) of course runs counter to GDPR. Comply with one and fall foul of the other.

Do we have any evidence that a company has been forced into a situation like this yet? Where they've been required by the US to turn over data but prevented by the GDPR? I feel like that would've been big news, but surely it's happened already.

I think its more of the rebranding from US-gov spying to Chinese-gov spying

Agree. I'm curious if it becoming a US-owned app means it would struggle in China.

In China they have a separate app owned by ByteDance called Douyin - in fact iirc TikTok was an aquisition that they then modeled after Douyin

I'm not sure it would, unless the app development were to be significantly different. People sometimes underestimate the cultural differences.

The example I like to give is the one given by John Hooker, who taught comparative culture at CMU. As it is, U.S. jokes are often not funny to many continental Europeans. Chinese humor is of a whole other bent.

Another interesting comparison point are Japanese websites, which are borderline unnavigable (to me) because they avoid any use of larger fonts.


Outlook is one of the few services approved in China (I have a western friend that lives there and is constantly fighting with VPNs/trying to use the services he wants).

Outlook pesters you for a Chinese phone number (internet phone doesn't work), probably so it's easier for the users to be tracked.

I assume they've made whatever CCP requirements are necessary in order to operate there.

That said, they'd at least protect western accounts in the US if they bought TikTok.

Like Github and LinkedIn, I think this would be a smart move. Microsoft has also been a lot better stewards of these companies than they were back in the days of the Skype acquisition (2011, Steve Ballmer time). It's still amazing the turn around they've had after Ballmer left, people underestimate the effect of bad leadership at the top.


I agree that they botched Skype, but I think some of their more recent acquisitions - namely: Mojang, Xamarin, GitHub - have gone pretty well, IMO

I believe the trend here is they left them alone...

Github is actively merging features of Azure DevOps and they plan to merge the two eventually, also business model changes, integration with VS Code, Azure, etc.

Github is actively within Microsoft ecosystem and all for the better of both sides from my experience.

Xamarin was crap before the Microsoft acquisition, it was improving at great pace afterwards and it's pretty integrated into .NET standard story (but still crap last time I used it 3 years ago) - I don't even see how you could say anything like they left them alone, feels more like they got rolled up in to .NET devision, again for the better of both (Mono was still the only solution for some scenarios until very recently even outside of mobile)


The fact that you can still talk about them as separate is what I mean. It isn't some MS brand Xamarin. It's still Xamarin.

Github is still Github.

Of course Microsoft played a part in the progress. Try to be more generous with your nitpicking.


What ? Xamarin is defacto Microsoft Xamarin, it's even integrated in to their domain and Xamarin Studio got rebranded to Visual Studio Mac.

Github is a separate issue, they can't rebrand without huge value loss.


Github seems to have gotten some fire in their ass in the last 1-2 years. Hard to say whether that is because of Microsoft or competition of Gitlab, or both.

I comparison shopped Gitlab vs Github a few years back, and it was a joke: Gitlab killed Github on features and price. They still do. I'm not overly attached to either platform, but clearly Github has ridden on their laurels hard for a long time and Gitlab has not.

No comment on the merit of one vs other but with experience selling software, sometimes fewer features is better (lets you target better initially.)

Having the resources of Microsoft and a vision you want to execute on might be why they allowed themselves to get bought.

All of the founders except one were already gone, and the remaining one left immediately after the acquisition closed. It wasn't about executing a vision, it was about cashing out.

Add LinkedIn for SNS

Well, Skype the brand was botched, but Skype is basically what powers Microsoft Teams now. Which is widely successful due to it being bundled with Microsoft 365 (also Teams is pretty decent compared to the comp).

Skype should have been in the position that Zoom has taken over.

I believe Teams was a separate technology to begin with - not just rebranded Skype

Though they are separate products with different UIs and features, Teams, Skype consumer version, and (maybe?) Microsoft-hosted Skype for Business all run on the same communications tech stack, made by Microsoft's Intelligent Conversation and Communications Cloud division.*

Interestingly, it looks like Teams was at one point code-named "Skype Spaces" - a name which occasionally appears in Teams deep link URLs.

* see this job ad here: https://careers.microsoft.com/us/en/job/834482/Site-Reliabil...


Yeah, if you look at the network requests Teams makes, many of them include 'skype' in the name. Only thing I went off to guess it is a lot of the same services.

The 'skype' name in the network requests is more a remnant of a last minute change from the internal product name (Skype Teams) than a statement of the technologies underpinning the product.

The Teams comms/meeting stack was its own thing - an evolution (or frankenstein's monster mix) of Skype for Business and Skype Consumer technologies. That is one of the reasons why Teams did not have interop capabilities with SfB at launch.

Side note: The Skype for Business communications stack is a descendent of Lync/Office Communicator was completely separate from Skype Consumer (only thing it shared was branding).

Source: worked on Teams


Not sure on the underlying technology, but I would bet that the Skype brand definitely helped Lync adoption (Skype for Business), and the pervasiveness of Skype for Business was key to Teams success.

A clever play? Do Americans know a world outside of the US market exist? What hell of a message is this? A publicly traded company buying the domestic operations of a foreign company, just because the government deems it a National security risk, with no proof whatsoever? The same government who has spied citizen and high officials of ALLIED countries for years? Is all this completely lost on all of corporate America? This is pure international trade insanity. We’re discussing Microsoft buying TikTok as if it were just another valid course of action, while it’s the most Soviet-Russia style thing that has ever happened in International tech trade in decades. You want another one? Taiwan’s TSMC and all the shenanigans going on about their Arizona fab plant. Pure. insanity.

If you don’t get it, pause for a moment, and think what would happen if China would suggest that Huawei should buy a successful Western service operating in China to avoid a national security risk.

Pompeo is right when he says that this is like another Cold War, but with just one big difference: it’s America that’s playing the role of Russia now.


I thought it was crazy at first too, but they aren't forcing them to sell it. They have the option to sell it or have it banned. Look how many American apps are banned in China.

Difference is yahoo had arguably one of the worst CEOs ever: Marissa Mayer where as Microsoft has a wizard: Satya Nadella.

Nobody kills a product like Yahoo. I've always said that everything they acquire dies, and then they sell it for near nothing.

deleting irreplaceable cultural history as they go

What's worst about Marissa Mayer? she arrived when things gone worse. I argued the worst was Jerry Yang.

At the time she was considered a star, at least in my circles.

> It would help address the spyware concern by moving it to a US company

For the US government, whose only concern is who does and doesn't get to harvest the data from any spyware, yes.

For everyone else, I'm not sure how that resolves any spyware concern.


| give them a better foothold in Social Networking than Linked-in provides.

So you're saying that GitHub isn't a social network for coding?


Github is not a social network, and is should never be one.

I completely agree. My snarky comment was in reference to GitHub's marketing emphasis a few years ago on "social coding".

https://docs.github.com/en/github/getting-started-with-githu...

https://medium.com/glitch/github-glitch-and-the-future-of-so...


What does Tiktok have to do with linkedin? As far as I am concerned its a high write-off. It may be is worth a billion or two as a private company. It doesn't provide any value.

TikTok is not a "youth-based social network". It is more similar to YouTube, with content creator ecosystem and advertisement profit sharing and all.

From https://www.omnicoreagency.com/tiktok-statistics/

> 41 percent of TikTok users are aged between 16 and 24.

That seems rather youth-heavy when compared to Facebook (Timeline), Twitter, YouTube, Instagram.

Nothing inherently wrong with that, but it does come with risks.


What percentage is between 13-15? Or younger and lying about it. I would think 16-24 is their older user base.

My friend's kids, ages 9 and 11, are both obsessed with TikTok along with most of their school.

I was more against "social network" part than "youth-based" part. TikTok is a broadcast media, not a social network.

Fair enough, I suppose it depends on how broad your categories are.

Personally, I absolutely consider YouTube a video-based social network. You follow people/brands, have at timeline, can contribute comments on what they post, etc.

It doesn't tend to have as broad a social graph as something like FB, but almost nothing does. Twitter (for example) also has a large number of popular public accounts, similar to YouTube.


Facebook and Twitter mostly do not subsidize content creation, but YouTube and TikTok definitely do. That's why I think TikTok will have more staying power.

It's growing on everyone, all ages.

> Gasparino also reported the White House is "deeply concerned" about Microsoft's potential purchase and whether any Chinese investors would retain a stake in TikTok's US operations, citing unnamed sources.

And there's the lede. Consider this "story in two headlines" from an earlier high-profile Microsoft acquisition:

"NSA offering 'billions' for Skype eavesdrop solution" https://www.theregister.com/2009/02/12/nsa_offers_billions_f...

"Microsoft Buys Skype for $8.5 Billion. Why, Exactly?" https://www.wired.com/2011/05/microsoft-buys-skype-2/


That's what concerns me. Will that acquisition make MS an appendage of the Chinese government? Will that create conflicts of interest with serving the NSA?

Isn't it just as likely that this is a backhand deal by the NSA to limit Chinese easedropping? I can't really image any other reason for Microsoft at the hight of it's profitability to want to enter such a competative and fickle social media market.

If the warez community, you'd actually be surprised to find that most of Microsoft internal leaks and hacks come from Russia. Russian groups like WZorNET produce unreleased internal builds of Microsoft solutions all the time.

Snowden's leaks showed the government could wiretap Skype calls since at least 2010, when the FBI's Skype wiretaps started being ingested into PRISM. Your conspiracy theory for why Microsoft would buy Skype in 2011 doesn't survive even the most rudimentary investigation.

Throwaway for obvious reasons. I cannot understand what executive thinks this is a good idea or that it makes any sense in the broader organizational structure of Microsoft.

It's been so nice to see five years or so of relatively GOOD acquisitions. LinkedIn made sense: it's allowed for a legitimate Salesforce compete, especially when paired with Dynamics. GitHub was incredibly smart and it aligns well with the resurgent dev tools division and the cloud. Even Beam (Mixer), which was an utter failure from an execution standpoint, made sense as a vertical integration play with Xbox. It failed, but the idea behind it was solid. The OpenAI investment and other AI initiatives have all made tons of sense. Buying Xamarin was brilliant.

But this? What about Microsoft has any of the same DNA as TikTok?

Insanity. I really, really hope this is just a bad joke and us being used by TikTok to juice offers from other people.


I actually think it’s a good play, the same way buying Minecraft was a good idea.

You’re talking about a company that made Halo and Minecraft the face of its consumer gaming brand, calls their AI assistant “Cortana”, and their internal windows builds “redstone”.

Tiktok doesn’t make sense if you think of Microsoft as “not a social media company”, but it’s a part of a push to engage the GenZ audience that started with the Minecraft acquisition.

I’m old enough to remember reading jokes on slashdot on wintel, but for the younger GenZ audience, that’s not what Microsoft is known for. The brand value isn’t in the enterprise stuff HN looks at, but in their consumer facing side.

Does microsoft execute well on their consumer side? Results seems mixed, with Xbox doing ok and Mixer crashing and burning. We’ll see how this plays out.


I have absolutely zero faith in our ability to execute on the consumer side with this type of product. We couldn’t even make an also-ran Twitch competitor, despite literally owning one of the major consoles and being the platform for 99.99% of all PC games.

Minecraft was a good acquisition. Xbox, by and large, has made good acquisitions. But the rumor isn’t Xbox is buying TikTok, it’s Microsoft.

I would argue that with the exception of Xbox, Microsoft doesn’t have a strong consumer play and I would further argue it doesn’t need it. The re-emphasis on developer tools (GitHub, WSL2, Windows Terminal, Visual Studio Code) and productivity (Office 365 and M365, Power Platform) has been a boon for the business. Pure consumer pursuits like Cortana or Windows Phone or Groove Music have not worked.

We’re not a company that has social in our DNA. GitHub and LinkedIn are acquisitions that are run with various degrees of autonomy, but even as independent entities, neither was ever social the way Twitter or Facebook are.

When you talk about brand value for Gen Z, I understand what you’re saying, but I fully disagree chasing that potential value has legs. How many times has Microsoft tried to be “cool” over the last 45 years and how many times has it failed at it? Microsoft is at its most successful when it stops trying to chase trends and be cool and just focuses on the stuff it is good at.


Do companies have a fixed DNA that acquisitions can't change or can companies use acquisitions to evolve into something different?

People seem to forget that Microsoft has an ad business. TikTok is a great addition to Bing. Not for consumers - but for advertisers.

How does LinkedIn compete with Salesforce?

LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator when paired with Dynamics 365 is a very viable competitor to Salesforce in the ERP/CRM space.

Microsoft has way too much money coupled with negative amounts of taste and innovative ideas. They're trying to buy their way into being popular and cool. Microsoft TikTok 10 For Enterprise, Long Term Servicing Channel (Not Responding) absolutely will be a flop just like Teams, Mixer, the new Github UI, and Windows. They produce trash products and are a burden on the world.

Teams is a flop? That's news to me.

I find this exceptionally odd, after their somewhat abrupt shutdown of Mixer.

I don't see them as buying TikTok as much as they're buying users.

What are the obvious reasons for a throwaway? I'm genuinely curious.


I think this would probably one of the better outcomes for this situation, outside of somehow convincing every teenager in the world to stop using garbage spyware apps (good luck with that).

Microsoft and the US government are at least more of a "devil you know" than China I'd say. Obviously far from ideal, but cutting off the CCP's direct access to the personal data and impressionable minds of millions of young people seems a pressing matter to me.

I mean ultimately my hope is that this dumb fad app's relevance just passes in 1 or 2 years. But considering how we've seen similar such abusive, shallow apps have long term success, that may be overly wishful thinking on my part.


Also of all the big tech companies Microsoft is probably the worst at psychological warfare to hack into people’s brains and change their behaviors. As annoying as Microsoft Office is, it’s not trying to manipulate your political beliefs or get you to buy some shoes you don’t need.

Well, I can think of at least a couple examples where Microsoft or a subsidiary tries to do stuff like that. The big difference I think is that they almost always fail at it, due to how out of touch the higher ups are with how people actually think. Everyone pretty much knows that Microsoft is not, nor will they ever be, your friend.

I always suspected that the US government had Microsoft buy Skype so they could centralize it under US authority and monitor the communications. I have a feeling that TikTok is the same scenario - instead of worrying about TikTok spying on Americans, the US will have Microsoft buy it and they it'll move the servers to the US and use it to spy on the Chinese. Google and Facebook will never get broken up as long as Uncle Sam gets access to everyone's communications.

> and use it to spy on the Chinese

How? Are you suggesting that Douyin will be included in the purchase?


Yeah the international version of TikTok is already restricted here in China. Last time I tried to use it with VPN but it didn't work.

Not a single person seem to think that it is odd that we can simply order a foreign company to sell their business to an American company.

Well, probably because that's not what is happening.

The US has the right to ban companies from the country (as do other countries). What the US is saying is that the parent company (Bytedance) bust divest Tik Tok or they'll lose access to the US market. Microsoft is interested in it, but it could be a different company buying it. This is different than "you must sell this company to this other company" because the US can't force a foreign entity to do that (as long as that foreign government doesn't also cooperate due to politics of soft power reasons). In the case of China, Bytedance can absolutely refuse to sell Tik Tok, it'll just get banned from operating in the United States. Surely they'd rather take a few billion dollars instead, which is why they are going to sell it.

Actions like this or ones that are similar in spirit happen quite often. And naturally if you look at China, well, frankly, they are getting a taste of their own medicine in some sense.


Is there any precedence where the executive branch just ban a foreign company without citing the violation of law and going through court or WTO, in the last century?

Yep ->

"That order marked the sixth time a U.S. president has either blocked a deal or ordered a corporate selloff since Congress authorized the power to intervene in 1988."

WSJ - https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-to-sign-order-demanding-c...

I don't know the details of the others, but one that comes to mind (and maybe is mentioned in the article?) is the blocked acquisition of Qualcomm by Broadcom.

-edit-

The circumstances around some of these may not be exactly the same, but the derivation of power comes from the same source.

Also who cares about the WTO? I don't see the WTO being involved when China forces majority-owned joint ventures or outright bans US companies from operating there. Why would a court be involved either? Bytedance is welcome to sue, I suppose, but Trump (in this case) has the power to issue this order. I guess if we don't like that since it's being used now, we should have Congress vote to take that power away from the current and future presidents.

I'm in favor of this move overall. Besides the toxicity of social networking in general, I just don't see a point in letting Chinese technology companies operate in the US unless it's strictly under favorable terms for us. If they don't like it, then I guess maybe they should let US companies operate freely in their country. This will increasingly end up happening and I say good. China will grow tech companies, and the US will force them to divest or not operate in the US once there is significant money at stake until China plays fair. If they don't want to, well, that's just no big deal. We're doing just fine.


> I don't see the WTO being involved when China forces majority-owned joint ventures

Did you check? https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/dispu_e/cases_e/ds549_e...


WTO accession had massive economic, political and legal implications within China. There's a good review here: [1].

Discussions in the West tend to completely ignore these changes. For example, joint venture requirements have been removed from most sectors of the economy. Or to give another example, an entire legal system to protect and enforce IP has been set up in the last two decades or so, and that system is now very heavily used (including by foreign companies).

1. https://lawdigitalcommons.bc.edu/iclr/vol27/iss2/6/


I don’t care what they do. I know China bans Facebook, google, etc. and then requires >50% ventures

Not fully up to date with what eventually happened but few years ago when Grindr was sold to Chinese company, US tried to get them to sell it back to US ownership because it had a lot of confidential location data of military personnel.

It has since be sold to an American enterprise.

> it'll just get banned from operating in the United States

Worse, it cold be put into entity list, permanently removed from app store and play store.


I think this is the real topic to discuss. I think China has been doing very poorly in the past years with all its top companies ultra-distracted by the greed of grabbing fast money from the e-commerce boom but paid no attention to basic infrastructure like chips, OS, CAD/CAE etc. It's all built on sand that can be removed at any moment.

> In the case of China, Bytedance can absolutely refuse to sell Tik Tok, it'll just get banned from operating in the United States.

How is that not extortion ?


It is. Plain and simple.

edit: spelling


According to this Time's article, President Trump is ordering them to sell it.

https://time.com/5874408/trump-order-bytedance-sell-tiktok-u...


It is not odd at all when the foreign company is one of the largest espionage threats to United States, which is one of the largest markets in the world.

Yes, the US government is mulling over the idea of banning TikTok but that is only one of the problems. The immediate problem is that US companies have seriously assessed the security risk. TikTok and China have a credibility problem in the business world.

TikTok shareholders sees the same risk and they want to protect their investment. Not odd or surprising.


> when the foreign company is one of the largest espionage threats to United States

Are you referring to something specific or this is a Bush doctrine sort of thing?


OFAC is a result of political and economic realism. Not many people will do business in Venezuela, Iran and North Korea because (among other good reasons) the governments of these countries have shown a propensity of nationalize foreign firms.

Foreign companies are free to not do business with the United States if they feel their company is likely to be expropriated. In practice 300m of the world's richest consumers make the US irresistible. Thus, OFAC is tolerated.


Is it that odd? Some countries force you to partner with a local firm to enter their market. A great many use import taxes to give their home businesses a leg up in the industry. It's not fair, but it's not odd either.

Domestic ownership requirements are common throughout the world. In comparison to many other countries (look at the UAE, at least till last year) the US has traditionally been open to foreign ownership.

The thing that is notable is that the US has traditionally advocated for open markets and cross border ownership, but now is jumping on board with tactics it once campaigned against.


Is it any more odd than China strong-arming the NBA, lest they are barred from operating there?

If TikTok wants the American/European market and they’d sell the company in order to so, that’s just the reality of working within the current geopolitical landscape.


Wouldn't the logical equivalency be for China to strong-arm the NBA to sell ownership to a Chinese company if they want the NBA to continue to be watched by Chinese audience?

> Wouldn't the logical equivalency be for China to strong-arm the NBA to sell ownership to a Chinese company if they want the NBA to continue to be watched by Chinese audience?

Indeed. The real equivalent would be when China prohibited AWS from operating datacenters in China, forcing them to instead operate out of Chinese-owned datacenters.


Well no, it's not that complicated.

To make it as illustrative as possible, your example is like the child of an American goes to work in China and China says, if you want to work, you need to use my shovel.

My example is like the child of a Chinese goes to work in America and America says you need to be adopted.


Not really. AWS would like to run a datacenter business in China the way they do everywhere else in the world, but that happens to be illegal in China. Only Chinese companies are permitted to run datacenters. This seems like an exact parallel of the US deciding that social media companies that want to operate in the US have to be US companies.

They do it, so we should too. Got it.

Yes. Exactly. Welcome to the real world.

Then it is high time we get off our high horse.

Well that's why you have a bigger stick. It's more expensive and you need to pay the cost somehow.

You ain't seen nothing yet. Wait until they break out the "Entities List".

I find the whole Huawei situation to be quite riveting.

business as usual. US bullying others for economic gain. sometimes with war, sometimes with sanctions. for now they threaten to ban tiktok in the US but I'm sure it wouldn't stop at that. same as with huawei. they will go door to door to bully other countries to ban tiktok as well.

If the US forced ByteDance to sell Tiktok, the US would lose its last bit of moral high ground in China, the spirit of free market and rule by law.

If you are worried about data leakage to China, you set rules and law and enforce them. That is what China is doing. They asked Apple and other cloud service provider to store data in China. The US could setup clear rules and regulations about where to put data of US users and if it is allowed to send the data to third country like China and then enforce them.

And China asked companies to set up jv in some sectors before they entered China market. They didn't do it after they were already here. Microsoft destroyed China's local word and spreadsheet editor software developers and China didn't ask MS to sell its China local business.

This act is pure bullying and imperialism. After that happens, the US wouldn't be able to command any support from Chinese people when it accuses CCP of anything.


You obviously don't have much experience with China. China is an authoritarian state and all companies are subject to secret control by the state, essentially branches of the military. There is no legal recourse or protection from such intervention. The government can mandate spy code be inserted and any data they want.

You're well intended here, but ignorant of how China operates. There is literally no way to enforce what you suggest.


The person you are replying to is Chinese and lives in China. Or at least their post history says so.

Isn't hackernews blocked in China?

Then they are in denial, more likely a brainwashed patriot.

I lived in China for many years.


Worth noting that companies in the United States are subject to secret and forced surveillance by the US government (NSLs), and enforcing that surveillance also requires a degree of forced control as well. There is legal recourse for NSLs but it's ineffective and basically never works.

>The government can mandate spy code be inserted and any data they want.

Essentially true for US government with US companies too


Why do countries, including China, mandate companies use their servers in various cases?

"Their servers" implies that it's something they own.

In fact it's more about ensuring that data is living inside their legislative boundaries.

The servers are not owned by China/EU/US states; they're still owned by the companies that operate them, just the data isn't exfiltrated to be outside the reach of the police.


arguably sovereign property doesn't exist in China

> China is an authoritarian state and all companies are subject to secret control by the state, essentially branches of the military.

Jumping from authoritarian state, to "all companies are subject to secrete control by the state", that is already a quantum leap. If you believe what Soviet Union's state controlled economy collapsed, because it's impossible for state to control that much of details of the economy, then you must be having a great faith in Mr. Xijinping being a literal Super human, who can control "all companies".

Then to "branches of the military"?! Now you are saying that Mr. Xi Jingping is just a puppet of the military?! And Chinese military is so brilliant that they not even developed a powerful military force second only to US & Russian, and meanwhile, they actually runs "all companies"?!

I just cannot see any logic in this short statement...


Companies in China have Party Committees, appointed by the government. These committees have oversight over how the company operates, and how the board is appointed. The Chinese government has a strong direct influence inside Chinese businesses, that isn't present in the rest of the world.

Party Committees aren't appointed by the government, and they don't have anywhere near the power you're asserting they do.

Please give me a link, I haven't heard of such organization recently...

Edit:

Note that CCP does ensure private firms provide support for employees who are also party member to organize relevant activity.

State-owned company obviously has party committee, and except great control on personnel, like kind of a board.


They're called Commissars https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commissar imagine one standing over as you code and reminding yo what the Party expects...and if x feature is complaint with Party ideals or not.

> If you believe what Soviet Union's state controlled economy collapsed, because it's impossible for state to control that much of details of the economy, then you must be having a great faith in Mr. Xijinping being a literal Super human, who can control "all companies".

China has discarded many of the Communist philosophies which held the USSR back. It is somewhat difficult to organize an economy when you intend to abolish money. And even harder when you refuse to optimize for profit! The PLA is under no such restrictions.

> And Chinese military is so brilliant that they not even developed a powerful military force second only to US & Russian, and meanwhile, they actually runs "all companies"?!

Then you haven't been paying attention, because yes, the People's Liberation Army owns and runs many businesses, with active duty officers serving as executives. State-owned enterprise is basically the only part of the whole Communism thing left.

I don't think anyone said Xi Jingping was a puppet other than you, but he remains president in part because the military supports the idea. Selling off their toys and firing officers from their side gigs risks losing that support.


Please be remindful that the statement is that "all companies are branch of military"...

And to be precise, "People's Liberation Army owns and runs many businesses" this is almost certainly a misunderstanding of the organizing structure.

Mr Deng Xiaoping deliberately not disallowing military involving business activities [1], in part it's because the military is starved from support and resources, and they need some form of self-sustaining to maintain the basic infrastructure, especially ensure the continuation of the talent development relevant to high-end military capability.

That was banned in Jiang Zeming's rule [2]. In part, just like the purge done by Xi, was because military with its own finanical sources will become a plitical risk to the party head.

Today, there isn't any military owned business, officially. There are state-owned military equipment companies and research institutes. But their relationship with military is not too different from Locke-martin & US government & US military. (I mean, US system works better, right? Then CCP will happy to copy...)

Of course, there could be grey areas, and exceptions. But it should be common sense, here I repeat, military personnel cannot have financial support in their own control, that threatens the political leaders' authority.

If you can name one "active duty officers serving as executives", I'll be very surprised...

[1] http://congressionalresearch.com/98-197/document.php?study=c... [2] http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/981596.shtml [3] https://www.businessinsider.com/xi-tells-chinas-military-to-...


> the US would lose its last bit of moral high ground in China, the spirit of free market and rule by law

The US will continue to shed international credibility so long as we Americans continue to engage and enable mainstream discussion of conspiracy theories and populist applesauce. This Trabant quality excuse of an administration is just a symptom of that.

Honestly, I would not be surprised if the sole reason that this executive order is being banded about is because of TikTok users claiming they helped overinflate turnout expectations for that flameout of a rally in Tulsa.


"Trabant" was a pleasant surprise - it's an East German car -https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trabant

That is, I believe, what they were intentionally referring to when they criticized the quality. It doesn't seem to have a great reputation these days.

Hey, no shitting on the Trabbi!

> would lose its last bit of moral high ground in China

I mean it is no different than the EU requiring US companies to host data in EU data centers.

China has banned so many US companies - why is it unfair to retaliate?

The use of economic power shouldn’t only be acceptable when done by corporations. Governments with a backbone should use it too (like the EU has done when appropriate)


Banning something unless they/it has provabley broken US laws, merely out of spite and retaliatory motives isn't something that is acceptable in a democracy like the US.

Also it appears the 'national security' threat of tik-tok seem way overhyped, it is like a country speaking of Instagram as a national security threat.

Neither apple not Google has found TikTok problematic enough to pull it from their app stores.

Such claims of threat to 'national security', needs to be viewed with a certain skepticism, as these seems to get easily accepted by US lawmakers without sufficient, dispassionate analysis.

Also in general banning apps/services should not be the purview of the government under any reason. Why should the government dictate which apps an individual can use on their own phones/computers?


> Banning something unless they/it has provabley broken US laws, merely out of spite and retaliatory motives isn't something that is acceptable in a democracy like the US.

Why?

Stuff like this has happened all the time in plenty of democratic countries across the world. Not sure I see the issue (like my EU example). It’s just a state wielding economic power as opposed to a corporation.


EU requires data to be based in the EU. So a US equivalent would be to require data to be based in the US, not banning whatever tickles its fancy.

Consistent rule of law allows economic actors to make proper planning and decisions. If the US wants to ban Chinese apps, it should pass a law saying that.


> So a US equivalent would be to require data to be based in the US

Right, isn’t that what a sale to Microsoft would essentially do?

The metaphor here doesn’t cover the fact that China has banned tons of American companies — should the US not respond in turn? I don’t know what the right response is tbh but I don’t think they should feel compelled to just shrug it off.


I disagree. Trade is bilateral. If China plays dirty and bans apps left and right we should encourage them to stop doing that by retaliating, much like we do when they give state aid to their private companies (which skews the free market in their favor).

While this move seems nothing related to any ban by China on US apps.China hasn't banned any major US app within a recent window of time, so I do not think that is the impetus behind this move.

I do not buy that we should do anything by breaking our own constitutional guarantees, by letting the executive mislead the public in assuming powers that they simply do not have.

The President don't have authority to do this, and should not be having it in good sense.


You think China is the only government that engages in state aid?

https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-health-coronavirus-moderna...


You're confusing a pure "free market" with "democracy." A democratically elected government can ban anything they want, as long as it is constitutional (and this clearly is). A democratically elected government can be as logically inconsistent as they want. And if these are things the people want as well, then the government will get re-elected.

America has never been a pure "free market," it's a mixed market, just like every current economy in the world.


The opinion seems to be that there is no authority with the president/executive to promulgate such a ban, so I doubt it is within constitutional limits to do so. However, there is some limited commercial/trade related measures available, but these are rather new and untested, and will likely expose the federal government to litigation.

The question is about how can something that isn't illegal or that hasn't evidently broken laws be banned, and that too without even a semblance of a fair process.

Was TikTok investigated, if so what was found? Have they been asked to show cause? Have they broken laws?

See: https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/07/24/trump-cant-ban-tiktok-f...


I think it's wholly different to have data sovereignty laws on citizens (IE; keeping data within your regulatory/legislative area) vs the _forced sale_ of a public company.

It is fair to retaliate. But it's a sort of whataboutism. The problem is the direction the competition is heading.

You see, China built the Great Fire Wall. A bizarre thing is more and more countries are considering to do the same seriously.

So what's next? There are also a lot of reports about the concentration camps. I don't know how accurate are those horrible reports, but you definitely don't want your country competing on building more concentration camps.


> US would lose its last bit of moral high ground in China, the spirit of free market and rule by law.

No it won't change a thing. And to be fair, forcing a sell (which is just forcing it to exit all stakes in the US market) is a far cleaner move than trying to end the company globally like it's doing for Huawei.

> This act is pure bullying and imperialism.

This is nothing compared to overthrowing Iran's democratic government to instate a puppet monarchy, helping the despot build 23 nuclear power plants, losing the puppet to revolution because the CIA assisted secret police killed too many people, claiming the built power plants are evidence of nuclear ambitions, sanctioning the country against UN resolutions, then using the economic aggression as justification to chain imperialize against other people such as Meng Wanzhou who was arrested unlike the CFOs of Banco do Brasil, Bank of America, Bank of Guam, Bank of Moscow, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, Barclays, BNP Paribas, Clearstream Banking, Commerzbank, Compass, Crédit Agricole, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, ING, Intesa Sanpaolo, JP Morgan Chase, National Bank of Abu Dhabi, National Bank of Pakistan, PayPal, RBS, Société Générale, Toronto-Dominion Bank, Trans-Pacific National Bank, Standard Chartered, Wells Fargo, Ericsson, Nokia who all transact with Iran.

And this is an arrest based on the accusation that she did not disclose (she did, on page 6 of her HSBC powerpoint) Huawei's transactions with Iran in her HSBC loan. The same HSBC with a non-arrested CFO who transacted with Iran and whose drug trafficking heat from the US magically disappeared after snitching their client.

The world will sleep through this like the world slept through the same round of tariffs, executive arrests, banning suppliers and technologies like we did to Japan in the 80s.


> helping the despot build 23 nuclear power plants

Iran has one nuclear power plant, and it opened in 2011. It was built mostly by the Russians.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bushehr_Nuclear_Power_Plant


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_power_stations_in_Iran

This is the first sentence

    By 2012, Iran had roughly 400 power plant units
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_program_of_Iran

The Shah approved plans to construct up to 23 nuclear power stations by 2000.[24] In March 1974, the Shah envisioned a time when the world's oil supply would run out, and declared, "Petroleum is a noble material, much too valuable to burn ... We envision producing, as soon as possible, 23,000 megawatts of electricity using nuclear plants."[25]

Advertisement from the 1970s by American nuclear-energy companies, using Iran's nuclear program as a marketing ploy US and European companies scrambled to do business in Iran.[26] Bushehr, the first plant, would supply energy to the city of Shiraz. In 1975, the Erlangen/Frankfurt firm Kraftwerk Union AG, a joint venture of Siemens AG and AEG, signed a contract worth $4 to $6 billion to build the pressurized water reactor nuclear power plant. Construction of the two 1,196 MWe, and was to have been completed in 1981.


I don’t see how your evidence disagrees with your comment’s parent.

To be fair, I'm lost too at what I'm supposed to respond to :D

Can't tell if the GGP is disagreeing because it's suggesting that the US can only impose "nuclear ambitions" sanctions on finished commercially operational nuclear power plants rather than nuclear development in general.


The accusations against China is that they do not follow the rules. Stealing IP is very illegal in the US but that didn't (allegedly) stop Waweii. So just saying "make more rules" is not a valid solution if the accusations are true. Byte dance already does store data in the US, but the only way to 100% prove they aren't sending data to China is to regularly audit ISP logs.

Are you talking about Huawei? If there is IP and IP infringement why not sue the company? I thought there is tons of cases of IP lawsuits each year? Huawei has operations in many markets like Europe with strong rule of law, sue Huawei in Europe. There are two law suits against Huawei from Cisco and T-Mobile. The first case both parties settled out of court. Second case is about a phone test arm, and already settled after ruling by courts. Huawei's main technology, and where U.S. gov has a problem with is with 5G. Huawei actually has a lot of patients in 5G. Many companies licences their technology. If there is a legitimate case of IP theft, then sue the company.

TikTok is operated by the TikTok office in the U.S. ByteDance is incorporated in Cayman islands so Chinese laws do not have any jurisdiction over TikTok office. There is no way for Chinese government to force their censorship rules and steal data from TikTok data stored in the US. Unless tiktok employees in the US office hands the data to China. But TikTok employees in the US office are all American. The CEO of TikTok is Kevin Mayer. The content regulation team is staffed with American employees. Data is stored in US servers and backed up in Singapore. TikTok is hiring more in the US office to develop TikTok going forward. TikTok also plans to experts can observe our moderation policies in real-time, as well as examine the actual code that drives our algorithms. Source: https://newsroom.tiktok.com/en-us/fair-competition-and-trans... Source: Bytedance corporate structure https://www.bytedance.com/en

But the US gov is not giving TikTok any opportunity to explain themselves. Whatever Bytedance management can do, there is no way for them to shake off the belief that TikTok sends data to the US government.

As for ByteDance, the founder of Bytedance is a Chinese national. But the board member also includes non Chinese people. Chinese people do not all agree with the government. And Chinese people definitely do not want to work for or help the government unless absolutely required under Chinese law. Chinese people enjoy freedom and distance from Chinese government as well. A lot of Chinese people admire the US for its rule of law, its innovation and the general classiness when doing things. This is especially true in the entrepreneur and technology scene in China, where the US is often looked up to. People want to be friendly. No one wants to undermine the U.S. No one wants to be associated with the government or work as a spy to steal data.

I have been following the creation and growth of tiktok and douyin since the beginning. There are many interviews and news story about the company and the founders. The creation of tiktok is to spread happiness, creativity, raw human ingenuity through music, dances and user generated video. And all the founder wanted to do is develop a business from that and earn money from that. They worked really hard to develop the product, the marketing and the user base. The least they wanted is to be tied with politics, ideology wars, fake news, disinformation, political propaganda. The founder, zhang yiming, is a technologists and software engineer, not a politician, not a ccp ideologist. He has always displayed a general likeness and admiration towards the US since the beginning. I mean, why won't he? He studied C++, Javascript, big data, coding for IOS and Android. All of that comes from the U.S. And he has collaborated with US business people since the beginning. I guess his friendliness and admiration to US is why he entered the US market, step up office in the US and hired US employees.

But now they are caught between politics in China, ideology battle, and geopolitics.They are seeing their hard work going down the drain, and asking themselves "Probably my biggest crime is born in mainland China". No matter what they do, they cant shake off people's belief that they work for the Chinese government. Its a profound feeling of hopelessness.


I don't think this has anything to do with who the founders are. This is pure retaliation against China for not allowing US companies to operate there.

It is hard for me to feel bad for one Chinese company banned from operating in the US when China has banned thousands of US companies.

The founders of TikTok should blame Chinese government, it's 100% their fault that the US is retaliating. I am glad US is finally standing up to their unfair restrictions.


> China has banned thousands of US companies

Which companies are you talking about?

> This is pure retaliation against China for not allowing US companies to operate there.

American companies have a massive presence in China. There's nothing comparable to it in the US. Imagine walking into a mall in an American city, and half the stores being Chinese. The reverse is the case in China.


> But TikTok employees in the US office are all American.

Citation needed. And just because they're American doesn't mean that they won't send data to China.


It is fair to accuse China of anything. It is the actions the government or law makers take that matter.

I think Trump administration is them problem. It is amazing to see how much a single term of an irrational president could damage a country in almost every aspects.


https://law.stanford.edu/2018/04/10/intellectual-property-ch...

Quote: Eventually what happened was that, as China’s domestic copyright industries found themselves competing with cheap knock-offs of foreign goods, they pressed the Chinese government to fortify the IP enforcement process on its own. (To put this in perspective, this is also what happened a century earlier in the US, which until 1890 failed to protect foreign works, and then waited yet another century before joining the major international copyright treaty.)

Let's just not pretend that IP theft was not prosecuted, and IP was not protected in China. That's simply not possible in such a fast-growing economy, which we can all agree that can only be sustained through innovation.


Honestly, you have some valid points and this bullying by forcing it to be sold is bad.

I think the fear is the manipulation that social media platforms can easily do of discourse and emotions. This is not as simple as just selling word processing software.

We have seen manipulation on US's own social media platforms by actors not even inside the company. Imagine a government which has supreme control on the companies on its own soil, imagine what it can do. I would say the fear is well founded, the solution to is not.

In case of the companies under free governments and justice systems, this becomes hard as any FB employee can go out and use the free press to expose if any manipulation like this is ordered.


I was going to make a similar comment, but I think your comment is a little exaggerated. Freedom of speech is still differentiates the US and China.

I am not exaggerating about the US losing it credibility in China.

The US was really the shining city on the hill before 2008 financial crisis. I personally was huge admirer of the US system. I even spent about 1 year in DC just to study the political system of the US.

Before the 2008 financial crisis, China tried to copy everything from the US, from finanical market regulations to education system and to some degree, political system reform. There was a period when academics and even some very senior CCP members called for small government, separation of party and administrative system, and they even used the term 'put power into cages'.

The 2008 financial crisis that started in the US made China's elites within the party and outside of the party think hard if the US system is really the answer. Trump administration, the handling of covid-19 and the BLM protests further changed the view towards the US and made it impossible for those friendly with the US to promote the US value system in China now.

Tiktok is considered a national pride because it thrives by open competition in the US and the world. This act of forced selling without a due process for Tiktok to defend itself from accusation of spying for China would absolutely be another huge blow to the credibility of the US in China.


Do you not realize it was Xi and his propaganda that caused a massive change in opinion of the west? The state news agencies constantly blames everything on foreigners and the west.

It has nothing to do with financial crises or BLM or whatever. Financial crisis also happened in 2001 and 80's, they happen all the time. BLM protests are insignificant, US has protests constantly because they are not restricted by government.

Handling of COVID is bad, and most of us don't like Trump. But Xi's anti west propaganda is very real and influences all Chinese news and social media. Xi has massively ramped up rhetoric against the west and especially US. That is why majority of Chinese don't respect the US anymore.

You can see Xi saber rattling with US, building basesin South China Sea. Troop fights with India. Bullshit with Tibet Dali llama. Uighur re-education camps. Crackdown on Hong Kong. There's many more. This is why relations with US are going bad. Xi is pissing everyone off to drum up patriotism in China and make Chinese direct anger at foreigners instead of problems with Chinese government


Do you realize that the content you listed is all propaganda by the US government?

> Do you not realize it was Xi and his propaganda that caused a massive change in opinion of the west? The state news agencies constantly blames everything on foreigners and the west.

I don't know where you got that from. CCP stopped long ago painting the US / western countries as enemies and sources of today's problems of China.

The fact is, Chinese and China in general are much less ideology sensitive now. Given current hostilities from the US, CCP propaganda and China's new medias still haven't called for hate of the US at ideology level. There were hash words against the US, but all targeting very specific actions, for example shutting down of Huston consulate, and specific person, for example Pompeo. There is no ideology level attack.

It is a very large topic to discuss why and when Chinese people stopped admiring the US. I would only say it all started in 2008 financial crisis. It was then China's elites, here I mean both the ones educated in the western countries and the ones with no foreign education background, started to question the soundness of the financial market regulation system of the US and corruption of the US politicians, and then everything else. And when China could produce its own hero startups and entrepreneurs, like Jack Ma of Alibaba, Pony Ma of Tencent, Yiming Zhang of ByteDance, Lei Jun of Xiaomi etc., Chinese people feel more confident that its own system might just work. And Trump administration and the handling of covid19 are the latest blow. CCP doesn't really need to do anything.

All the other matters you mentioned like South China Sea, disputes with India, Xinjiang etc. aren't new problems. They have been there for ages. They are not the factors driving the changes.


One of the things that "scholars" Martin Jacques (China-friendly academic commentator) and Steve Bannon (crazy Trump guy) agree on is that 2008 was the pivotal event.

A wave of nationalism has swept the western world. From Trump in the US, to Brexit, to numerable populist nationalist parties turning mainstream in Europe (AFD, Front National, Sverigedemokraterna etc.) all stemming out of the frustration of lack of prospects for the common man.

Rather than going to the root cause populist nationalism blames the other; the Chinese, the immigrants, the scientist, the media. And let conflict drive the agenda.

Incredible that it is a widely held view in the west that it is changed Chinese politics (the rise of Xi) that has bought forward the change.

Unfortunately I don't think things will get better any time soon.

They might even accelerate further.


> you set rules and law and enforce them. That is what China is doing.

Except the law is essentially "whatever CCP wants to do" since the only political entity which can affect its legislation process is CCP. And yes, it's intentionally vague so it can allow CCP to exercise its power in an arbitrary way.


This is giving China a taste of it's own medicine - pretty sure EU or Japan would love to see this given the treatment of their companies in China.

It's extraordinary to see an once open and welcoming governement to become xenophobic and ruleless. In the last 10 years, when things like this happen in other country, you would hear POTUS or media condemn this kind of action by referring to an once sacred word like "law" and "due process".

Just like the double standard on delaying the election, it's ok to delay election due to COVID in US, but it's perfectly fine to condemn other places for doing the same.

It would be very interesting to see how how ppl or historian view this 10 years later.


The Chinese have their firewall, censoring anything that the regime doesn't like. This not only muffle the criticism of your citizens, but also criticisms of the American people and the rest of the world.

This is for tit for tat. The United States is an open society. Why should we let an authoritarian regime gains influence over my country?


Indeed comrade. The best way to remain an open society is by shielding ourselves from those evil authoritarians. With our firewall, of course.

China has actively banned major US companies like Google for a long time now. It's clear that they've never been interested in 'playing fair' and this is the first time the US is actually standing up for its own companies and security concerns. I'm no Trump admin fan, but I do support taking a stand against the asymmetry that's happened for a long time now.

I vehemently disagree. The duplicitous play would be to create a competitor and cheat by throttling TT, spreading falsehoods about TT, and banning TT to get Americans to use it instead of TT. Paying China fair market price for their company is the cleanest play there is.

I never really understood the panic over TikTok. Is the fear about security, or is the fear that China might actually have successful social media product in the US?

Speaking personally, here's why TikTok concerns me: TikTok is a Chinese business, and China has shown no limit to how much it will meddle in the affairs of and even take control of Chinese businesses for the furthering of the Chinese state's agenda.

Simultaneously, TikTok has captured the daily attention spans of millions of Americans, many of them especially young and impressionable. They've captured their attention in the form of a black box algorithm that promotes content in whichever way TikTok deems most appropriate.

These two facts mean that the Chinese government now has direct access to the brains of millions of young Americans, with zero oversight. Imagine China subtly promoting videos to create outrage and civil unrest in the US, or to feed anti-US propaganda to germinate terrorist groups in the US. These might sound like far flung possibilities, but I think it's hard to say what a country that views the US as its enemy (politically, economically, philosophically) might do with that kind of power, and I don't think we can wait to find out.


> These two facts mean that the Chinese government now has direct access to the brains of millions of young Americans, with zero oversight. Imagine China subtly promoting videos to create outrage and civil unrest in the US, or to feed anti-US propaganda to germinate terrorist groups in the US. These might sound like far flung possibilities, but I think it's hard to say what a country that views the US as its enemy (politically, economically, philosophically) might do with that kind of power, and I don't think we can wait to find out.

Ironically this idea is one of the rationale behind the GFW. Dont want any Spring/colour revolution over there.


"Imagine China subtly promoting videos to create outrage and civil unrest in the US, or to feed anti-US propaganda to germinate terrorist groups in the US."

our president is doing a fine job of that now with his twitter account.


Or, you know, our mainstream media exclusively broadcasting videos without contextualization of white police officers killing black men to the country and ignoring all other racial configurations of violence in order to stoke racial tension.

and according to many, his election was partially a result of foreign tampering

Right, but we have the ability to vote him out of office. We don't have the same oversight of the content the Chinese Communist Party wants to put in the minds of young Americans, besides banning the app.

Does China really identify as "a country that views the US as its enemy (politically, economically, philosophically)" or is that just a projection of how the US feels about China?

Absolutely. China does not recognize even the idea of Human Rights, let alone their implementation. What do you think the Great Chinese Firewall is for? Shutting out all those ideas from the rest of the world that are deemed hostile to the ruling party's ideology.

> Imagine China subtly promoting videos to create outrage and civil unrest in the US, or to feed anti-US propaganda to germinate terrorist groups in the US.

I mean, Youtube[1] and Facebook[2] already do this, and nobody has a problem with it. Do foreign-owned businesses not have first amendment rights?

I should also point out that honest journalistic reporting of the reality in the US is more than sufficient to create outrage and civil unrest in the US.

[1] https://techcrunch.com/2020/01/28/study-of-youtube-comments-...

[2] https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/ryanhatesthis/the-far-r...


> Imagine China subtly promoting videos to create outrage and civil unrest in the US, or to feed anti-US propaganda to germinate terrorist groups in the US.

Restricting foreign media based on "propaganda" fears is not a behavior that free societies engage in.


> They've captured their attention in the form of a black box algorithm that promotes content in whichever way TikTok deems most appropriate.

Ugh no. TikTok's recommendation algorithm works the way it does because of its userbase's preference. TikTok is NOT free to change it willy-nilly. At best TikTok can "steer" the algorithm.


Does this mean China is correct in censoring information and social networks?

There have also been reports that the Chinese use all the behavioral data reaped from TikTok as input for training their own surveillance and censorship ML. The international user base is involuntarily turned into fuel for the totalitarian Chinese oppression machinery.

The fear is that any large Chinese project holding the personal data of Americans is inherently a security concern. It wouldn't be a big issue if Tiktok were French or Korean or something.

This is exactly it. There's widespread fear that China is buying its way into the personal data of billions through its state-sponsored businesses like Huawei and ByteDance.

Is TikTok really state-sponsored? Do you have any source?

I think there is also the impression that, even if china has not already been leaning on TikTok, if they ever did TikTok would necessarily relent. Whereas in the US we have examples of companies (e.g. apple) denying requests from the Feds.

Now I'm not saying this is necessarily true, but I think that is where the concern is coming from.


The CEO and cofounder has gone on record (https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2019/12/05/tiktok-..., linking to a parent source https://chinamediaproject.org/2018/04/11/tech-shame-in-the-n...) pledging that he'd run the company in accordance with socialist values and the principles of Xi Jinping Thought. The degree of financial relationship is unknown and probably unknowable, but it seems clear that ByteDance feels obligated to behave how the government wants.

Even if TikTok was openly promoting socialism - so what? The constitution doesn't split hairs about free speech. We're free to use speech to promote the political philosophy of our choosing in this country. The antidote to 'bad' speech, as per the constitution, is more speech, not to outlaw the speech you don't like.

It's not that ByteDance, owners of TikTok, are especially state-sponsored (though given the treasure trove of user data they're sitting on, especial isn't a stretch of the imagination): all Chinese corporations are either actively overseen by a CCP committee or potentials to be.

See https://thediplomat.com/2019/12/politics-in-the-boardroom-th...


TikTok has been caught violating COPPA. One of my kids recently signed up for TikTok without any age verification using their Android Google account, which then shares their email address with TikTok which is clear violation of COPPA. Nothing is being done to prevent this. TikTok actively caters to underage youth and most of the community is about producing provocative dance videos. In the end, TikTok is full of underage kids being provocative and is a cesspool and playground for pedophiles.

Hopefully it will be rebranded MikMok or ZuneZok.

This seems like a dumb move, why would MS want to get tied up in the horrors of social media when they have such a profitable empire.

They couldn’t possibly tie in MicMok to Office 365 and have anything good come from it.


"Microsoft (R) Passport Live TikTok.NET 2020 Datacenter Edition, part of the Windows Live Social Dynamics suite"

This reminds me of this old classic.

Microsoft Re-Designs the iPod Packaging https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EUXnJraKM3k


Now with Containers!

Assume they'll be a Visual Studio 2019 TikTok Xamarin project template.

Whatever it takes to bring back Microsoft Bob.

>This seems like a dumb move, why would MS want to get tied up in the horrors of social media when they have such a profitable empire.

They bought LinkedIn, which increasingly resembles a niche social media for professionals, all the way down to a news feed that is increasingly filled with motivational junk

Then there's Github, which used to advertise itself as "social coding".

Microsoft has done plenty already to get their foot in the door of social media.


would Minecraft almost fit into that as well? At least from the sense of buying an existing community.

If you squint, you can see the Minecraft fit: along with the Xbox side, it's quasi "coding" or "developing" for kids. Basically, you hook the kids who are interested in developing super, duper early.

Maybe, though to be fair Microsoft is far from being a newcomer to the gaming scene. Even before the Xbox, they were putting their name on games.

If they can have TikTok run on Azure, it'll improve Azure by leaps and bounds similar to Netflix running on AWS. I think it's a brilliant move to buy TikTok. I don't see what else they could potentially buy right now.

> This seems like a dumb move, why would MS want to get tied up in the horrors of social media when they have such a profitable empire.

Because it's a business operating after Wall Street decided that perpetual growth was not only a realistic expectation for stocks, but a mandatory one as well.


> This seems like a dumb move, why would MS want to get tied up in the horrors of social media when they have such a profitable empire.

First idea: Facebook's earnings over the past few years.

If this is true, it makes sense not from what MS is today but what they want to become.

Remember the I'm a Mac I'm a PC ads? MS was branded as uncool, boring and not creative and that mindset probably influenced a lot of Apple's adoption in the mobile space.

Microsoft wants to go where the money is and get the mindshare of younger generations who will have money to spend a few years down the line.


I agree it doesn't make any sense ...

They just sold their Mixer platform to Facebook.

If they can't manage correctly a game streaming platform, I don't see them be able to take on a video social network one.


To phase out TikTok usernames/handles and force users to move to Live/Outlook emails e.g tiktok-user@outlook.com. Then sit back and gleefully marvel at their own accomplishment.

BingBong

> Hopefully it will be rebranded MikMok or ZuneZok

Made my day ... thank you


Because they have cash to burn and having a major social media platform is trendy. /s

Data, Data, Data and Data

It'll be WinWok.

It appears as though very few Hacker News commenters have spent any time using Tiktok. It is the only enjoyable, enriching social media service I've ever used. Most everything many of us liked about the old/weird internet is present on Tiktok right now: almost no ads or commercial presense, personal content from real people (not hyper produced productions from influencers and pros), weird content, niche content, organically viral content, positive/encouraging comment sections. I've been exposed to such a huge diversity of things on Tiktok: people with physical disabilities, hilarious and creative videos from high schoolers, an elementary school kids frog journal, dance videos with single-digit views, large engine repair tips, home improvement tips, pet ducks, absurdist memes. You owe it to yourself to not dismiss Tiktok as a time-waster for idle teens. Those positive aspects of Tiktok are something we should be figuring out how to expand elsewhere.

My personal opinion is people don't realize the app/algorithm doesn't just reward the viewers, it rewards the creators. I do video/photo work outside of coding and at first what got me hooked was the effortless video tools (useful realtime effects, non-generic music). Not a video editor? Someone in my feed already posted a 15s tutorial so you learn how to create as you consume. Then after posting a few vids as a joke (cuz 15s videos couldn't be anything meaningful right?) the algorithm rewarded me with 100k's views that IG/YouTube/FB/Twitch/Vimeo COMBINED could never give me. Then they randomly invited me to their Slack where I could get tips on how to use the latest new effect, upcoming hashtags and give feedback to devs. I'm not a full time content creator, I'm old and I'm not a looker but for the first time, I felt like I could be a content creator and all I did was post a few 15s videos. It just works.

I don't want to debate the politics, security issues or your judgement of the content. I want whoever comes up with the next killer app to learn from what they were able to achieve because they hit an amazing product market fit and I'm hoping the HN crowd can at least understand that. /rant


> the algorithm rewarded me with 100k's views

Question:

a) why do you interpret that as a reward?

b) what leads you to believe those views are real or even meaningful?


These are odd questions to me.

I can understand why someone might not care about having some level of "internet fame." But I can't really understand how someone can not get how that can be rewarding to many.

Do you understand why people are rewarded by an audience applauding them? Do you understand why a musician would be excited to hear their song on the radio?

As for how they know the views are real... do you think TikTok is just faking them?


I don't know the intent of the questions, but they do seem reasonable.

Rewarding: Creators would also be interested in how engaged those viewers are. How well can this traffic convert into services which the creator might offer outside of TikTok? Would that traffic be worth the time of creating professional videos?

Real: This is a great question. Are the views real? I still have the story of Facebook faking video engagement numbers fresh in my brain. There's an argument that Facebook may be responsible for setting off the wave of intrusive auto-play video around the web.

I guess these are things which marketers will be working on, assuming the US doesn't block the application.


I'm fine with the questions but I still think people are missing my point.

This is NOT for professional videos. The whole point is just regular people showcasing some small talent they might have hidden away and thru the algorithm you start to discover these amazingly talented regular people that the other platforms have failed.

If I want to see the celebs, brands or professionally shot content I have FaceGram/YouTube/Vimeo for that. This app is for the rest of us until the celebs/brands come in and inevitably ruin it. Hopefully by then, one of you HN folks will have built the next one.


> I can understand why someone might not care about having some level of "internet fame." But I can't really understand how someone can not get how that can be rewarding to many.

I've asked the question because I really don't understand the point the OP or you were trying to make. My question was very straight-forward: why do you feel that counter a) has any meaning, specially as a reward, b) is even real. Could you please shine a light on this?

After all, even the OP admitted that the counter was not a result of something users did or a reflection of the value of your contribution. The Op framed it as being a number that was gifted to you for no reason. Why do you see any value in it?


According to their "algorithm", they show everyone's videos randomly to a small set of people and if people watch all of it (as in don't immediately swipe up), share or comment quickly then they show it to more people implying that the content I made is actually interesting to people. TikTok obv wants to surface good viral content to as many people as possible so the incentives are aligned. Think of it as being able to automate AB testing across hundreds of thousands of pieces of content.

As a result, I don't think traffic was given to me for absolutely no reason but there is a component of luck that they are explicit about which makes it even more compelling to creators. Compared to FB/IG/YouTube where I have to pay influencers or ad networks to get my work seen, they've evened the playing field a bit if my content has enough "inertia". It just motivates me to create better content next time and to try more often. You see how they're getting creators addicted?


a) If I'm being brutally honest, it's attention. Human beings enjoy attention even if it's totally dumb luck. I could say for this HN crowd that the traffic translates to revenue or some kind of practical benefit but honestly, it just felt good to get attention for something I created. That triggered a serotonin response in my brain that made me want to come back. I would assume it's similar to a HN post you submit making it to the front page?

b) They're real in that I get tens of thousands of comments and people actually reply. Most of the comments are reactions and jokes but I enjoy the thought that someone took the time to comment just like how I'm enjoying having a discussion here on HN. Whether or not it's meaningful is entirely subjective but probably goes back to my answer in a) - I appreciate the attention.


On the other hand, Tiktok is the only social media platform I absolutely can't stand. Low quality content, repeated jokes, people desperate for attention, impersonal, memes, and all of it video so there's an unavoidable fixed time cost.

With so much good high content available on the internet and how little time people have, it saddens me that so much time is spent on the low quality noise.


There's no fixed time cost, every video can be skipped (swiped) within the first milliseconds. I agree repeated jokes can be boring but it's really easy to skip. I also don't like videos that pick the influencer style "Hi everyone, so today I was in the kitchen and then you'll never believe what happened come on I have to show you, here's the top counter...". Next. As soon as I hear those kind of intro I skip. On Tiktok I expect the video to show me the content directly (a skateboarder's tiktok would jump straight to the trick, no intro). Yes, there's the impersonal challenge culture where people repeat the same thing... so what, some of them are funny/interesting. It's up to you to skip. After a while I'd say my feed has maybe 5% of junk. And easily skippable.

> With so much good high content available on the internet and how little time people have, it saddens me that so much time is spent on the low quality noise.

No, that's unfair, you are saying all of tiktok content is low quality noise, which is wrong


> No, that's unfair, you are saying all of tiktok content is low quality noise, which is wrong

In the board world of "video content", yes it is. It might be better than FB/Instagram/Twitter videos, but those and Tiktok pale in comparison to, say, HBO. Tiktok is gifs with sound filmed on a cell phone with a refreshing take on recommendations optimized for stickiness. It's the McDonalds of video content; maybe better than the niche it competes in, but its still garbage in a very convenient package. As far as the videos are concerned, they're very low quality compared to what the medium is capable of.


Sure but that's a very broad statement. HBO is a completely different thing to "people to people cellphone video sharing". I think we've opened Pandora's box here, this is just a mirror of society or humanity in general. It's not because of the devilish mechanisms those platforms put in place to get you hooked. Without active, rigorous content moderation this kind of videos is always what we end up with.

You might point at YouTube and how it's different here by boosting high quality content, but this is a) because they are running a lot of ads and are as such interested in curating content that advertisers would like their ads to run on and b) because they don't target the cellphone exclusively, so you can actually invest in a proper setup for your videos regarding camera, lighting, set, video editing.

The thing is that I can't see how TikTok can be profitable in the long run. Because of the low quality, low effort videos, it's much less attractive to advertisers, since the risk of ending up on controversial content is high. YouTube went through two or three iterations of this, each time refining their requirements for having a video eligible to have ads on it.


And HBO (which just repackages books into a format lazy people can digest and turn their brains off to) pales in comparison to the free MITx online video courses.

That's pseudo-intellectual arrogance.

Even some PhD laugh about stupid memes.

Also: facebook/insta/tw is mainly about re sharing, not producing.


> That's pseudo-intellectual arrogance.

You're out of line here. It is what it is, and just pointing out that stuff made with cheap passive fast mass consumption in mind is not arrogance or pseudo-intellectual. Complaining that bubblegum is not nutritional as a good meal at a nice restaurant is not pseudo-intellectual arrogance. You may argue that they have different usecases in mind but that's not an intellectual argument, nor an arrogant statement. Your attempts to resort to name-calling and ad-hominem attacks also don't help your case or even your ability to support your accusation.


> but those and Tiktok pale in comparison to, say, HBO

And HBO pales in comparison to live theatre. But that's pretty irrelevant.


> No, that's unfair, you are saying all of tiktok content is low quality noise, which is wrong

I mean, just list the top 10 tiktoks ever, or even top 100... rank them on metrics like content, depth, purpose, knowledge. Then compare them to other platforms or content formats. It'll rank quite low.

Of course if you rank it on other things like stickiness/addictiveness, fun, humor, aesthetic, novelty etc, it'll rank perhaps quite high for what it is (3-10 seconds usually)

I think in the end it really depends what you're looking for when deciding whether something is low-quality noise.


I really like the variety that is in my feed now that it has a history of what I've liked. The "top" tiktoks are not representative of what's in my feed at all. I'd wager that the top 10 most viewed TV shows also fare pretty poorly if rated them on content, depth, purpose, etc.

Note also that if you skip a video quickly, TikTok will show fewer of that type of video, which I think is a fantastic feature

If you press and hold over a video, it also has an option to tell it that you want to see fewer videos like that, which seems to work fairly well. Unlike Youtube, where even if I downvote a video, it will keep showing it.

Low quality? TikTok videos are much better (in terms of story arc and editing) than Videos on other social networks. And it takes one swipe to go to the next video. The repeated jokes are part of the TikTok culture. Pure copycats will normally not go viral - only adaptions that add their own spin.

I agree that it is an insane time killer. But that is because the content is so good and presented in and addictive way.


When I tried tiktok it seemed to only give me videos by British schoolkids. Maybe the content is better in some regions than others but the whole region locking thing stinks.

One of the factors might be region but also:

> Consumers (audience) side: Tik Tok use AI to calculate what content will be the best fit for the consumer. When consumer use the app, consumers even do not need to put their preference. AI will automatically get a sizeable database of the consumers’ behaviors.

Source: https://digital.hbs.edu/platform-digit/submission/tik-tok-us...


i need my freedom

Please read "the machine stops" by E.M. Forrester

TikTok makes me nauseous. It’s literally crazy to me that we’ve normalized an app targeted to kids and teens that encourages them to make hypersexualized mini music videos that rewards the “sexiest” videos with likes/followers/views. The absolute creepiest part is that anyone can browse and fully download any video without even logging in. You would have to be completely naive to think that there aren’t a million pedophiles on TikTok everyday downloading content of teenage girls and boys twerking to Nicki Minaj songs without a trace. All while we sit back and laugh about it like we’re on Facebook circa 2009.

How long have you used it for, and do you make liberal use of "Not Interested"?

Regarding content quality, I don’t see TikTok isn’t meant to be an epic dessert at a 3 star restaurant. I see it as a can of Pringles when I have the munchies.

So many IT-professionals here; only very few actually sitting down and trying to understand the appeal of this thing.

And so strange to see that everyone assumes that TikTok can be taken apart by a competitor (Triller) paying top creators to shift platform and the rest will just go to Instagram or YouTube.

If you spend some time on TikTok you will notice that the experience is actually not orientated around top creators but is guided by algorithm that entertains you in personalised manner.

What you are seeing not necessary new, not necessary from someone within your social graph.

It is really is something quite different from older social media.


> almost no ads

It usually starts out that way with any centralized for-profit communications platform. They wouldn't want to spring the trap before luring you in.


Come into my parlour said the spider to the fly...

TikTok makes me nauseous. It’s literally crazy to me that we’ve normalized an app targeted to kids and teens that encourages them to make hypersexualized mini music videos that rewards the “sexiest” videos with likes/followers/views/trending.

The absolute creepiest part is that anyone can browse and fully download any video without even logging in. You would have to be completely naive to think that there aren’t a million pedophiles on TikTok everyday downloading content of teenage girls and boys twerking to Nicki Minaj songs without a trace. All while we sit back and laugh about it like we’re on Facebook circa 2009.


Dupe

As long as it’s a Chinese owned surveillance application I’ll not touch it. I got rid of Facebook for similar reasons (s/Chinese/American).

I’m not sure I see the synergies MSFT gets from TikTok - a Snap Inc., makes more sense as a buyer to me.


MSFT has an advertising business. TikTok Ads would be a nice addition to Bing Ads.

Ahh I had forgotten about bing :eek:

Ads are coming either way the platform goes. I was getting ads on Facebook _from_ TikTok trying to get me to create ads on TikTok. A meta-ad.

HN commenter here who has spent a lot of time on TikTok as a relative wanted me to use it.

Hard disagree on the OP.

It’s like every social network starts out (more positive, no ads), but it has especially lowest-common-denominator content.

It’s brilliantly engineered to suck your time away, I’m genuinely very impressed how manipulative it is, really a big step up. And at least one young relative is totally addicted to it, far beyond anything I’ve seen with other networks, so it works.


> It’s like every social network starts out

Isn't that more reason to enjoy it while it's still great? Early youtube was fantastic, vine was a joy while it lasted, etc.

> but it has especially lowest-common-denominator content

Disagree. The whole point of having highly specialized recommendation algo is exactly to avoid LCD content. If I see low quality content, I instantly mark it as "uninterested". I have not seen a single "dance video" in almost a year. LCD happens on popularity based systems, TikTok's system is based on your specific usage pattern.

> It’s brilliantly engineered to suck your time away

Again, yes and no. It's engineered to match your preference. Personally, I have trained my to give me quality content. Of course it technically wastes my time. So does hackernews, but I still consider it great use of my relaxing time.


> It's engineered to match your preference.

No, these things are literally engineered to maximize engagement. Preferences are complicated, and we often actually prefer to consume less content... or at least would prefer to prefer to do so. Apps don’t measure that, they see eyeballs and maximize.


> literally engineered to maximize engagement

Both can be true though. Personally I only engage with educational and non-low effort content, and that's what the algorithm feeds me. By definition, my engagement comes from non-low effort content, so to claim that TikTok pushes for low effort content is just plain false.


I'm not sure about content quality in other countries but in India it's so cringe i cant stand it for 5 minutes! (gen Z might feel otherwise).. So glad it got banned in India.

I can understand your concern, but like most things on the internet it depends on who you are following. For example, there are educational Tiktokers and some really creative ones. It also is a social equaliser. The search functionality on Tiktok can be better though. That said, I am not sure about the security aspects.

I laugh heartily at Indian TikToks. Seems like a unique style of humor - the poisoned water bottle meme is hilarious to me and the fact that it occurs in ~20% of the even Indian TikToks is even funnier.

(I haven't used TikTok in a bit, so maybe this meme has died out)


Tiktok has beaten the US competition. The soft-power dominance of the US—especially with Zoom—has taken a massive hit lately. China has outperformed the US on the global stage. The fact the US has to ban Tiktok, not outcompete, is surely a worrying sign for the US: it’s now on the soft-power defensive against a cultural and military adversary in one of the US’s strongest areas.

Tagging along, the TikTok algorithm adapts to which videos you skip. It's unfair to claim that the platform has poor quality content without spending at least some time browsing, much more than 5 minutes

On your suggestion I browsed the front page for 10 minutes just to see what all the fuss has been about. Tiktok is worse than I could have imagined.

Tiktok's recommendation algorithm was TOO personal for me. It started recommending specific teenage girls who went through the same specific traumatic situations I went through as a teenager (which is common but rare <.001%). It completely got into my head and knew more than I would ever admit to anyone (sexual preferences, types, etc..).

If you were in Hong Kong, you will get thrown in jail over a post of critiquing the government actions through viral dancing memes, which the CCP has access to TikTok / Douyin.

If you anger the CCP in Hong Kong through its approved social networks, well you are going to be found out.


It’s enjoyable yes but it’s enriching in only the narrowest of contexts.

It's not nearly as revolutionary as the WWW and there's only so much info that you can cram into a short video. So... nah

> there's only so much info that you can cram into a short video

Which is a huge feature. Unlike YouTube, for example, TikTok videos tend to have no boring intros


But it doesn't make up for the downside, which is installing robust surveillance software on your phone that sends data to and takes orders from China and is subject to their arbitrary control of messaging. You know what else has a super amazing upside that still doesn't make up for the downside? Methamphetamine.

I think you need to look up Edward Snowden.

While US surveillance is also bad, it’s not yet subject to the same levels of abuse as in China. Don’t get me wrong, if this administration could, I’m sure they’d find a way to compete on that front, but we’re not there yet.

The Chinese government is running forced sterilization, reeducation, and internment campaigns against Uighurs. They’re arresting people for being critical of the government online based on dragnet surveillance.

Again, I’m not defending the US on these points - we’re running concentration camps too, and the fourth amendment is under assault, but there are important differences of scale and severity.


Having a roach problem in my house doesn't mean I'm happy to invite termites as well.

I wonder what the ownership transfer of a multi-billion dollar app looks like?

Like, what emails, button clicks, phone calls, etc, is involved in changing the ownership of the iOS app from one party to another? Presumably it's a different process from like, a toy app with zero downloads?


Mechanically speaking, App Store has App Transfer functionality. Here is Apple's documentation on it: https://help.apple.com/app-store-connect/#/deved688524f

I am more interested to know how you cut up the actual content. A user from Japan liked a video from an American user a year ago, what happens to that? Are the users still on the same tiktok shard? Do we somehow remove all foreign interaction from the American shard? Do users from Canada get to choose which shard to go with?

Is there any precedent for Microsoft operating a cutting edge consumer software product like TikTok? Welcome to Skype LinkedIn TikTok. We've make networking fun.

Probably Xbox is the closest.

Minecraft?

Mixer, most likely.

R.I.P.

How does an international app separate its operations enough to have a full distinct US operation? Will they be able to see post from someone in Canada? in China? Will China be able to see post from US users? Seems like something that needs to be all or nothing.

You make another Douyin, but for the US only, call it Musicaly, with US data sovereignty and censorship. Creators from outside the US can make an account on it and reach American audiences. But Americans can no longer use the international version of Tiktok.

but what happens to past data

The one thing I liked about MS was that it didn’t have a successful social media asset. This allowed it to stay generally apolitical and out of the fray.

This will be the beginning of the end of MS. (As opposed to the middle of the end of a very drawn out decline.)

I’m sure they see it as another Skype. The US govt subsidizing an acquisition to get access to data.

TikTok optimizes hard for popularity which involves many unpleasant choices in their algorithm. MS will feel compelled to ‘fix’ this both for a perceived social good but also for the benefit of the US government who is no doubt subsidizing this.

MS will become a target for lobbying by interest groups and the US government to a degree it has never dealt with and I don’t think MS can handle it. This is not the same as criticism for being a monopoly or making crappy software.

The best case scenario will be they screw with the algorithm early enough and bad enough that people leave en mass.

These are the same people who couldn’t leave Skype alone.


When a disciplined company like Microsoft buys a creative company like tiktok, the best Microsoft can do is monetize it. They will establish content providers. Create distributors. Add a healthy ad network.

But most undoubtedly, the creativity and innovation that tiktok can further yield will disappear. And this will lay the next foundation for another company to take over.


Satya jealous he didn't get dragged before congress this week.

Didn't make sense. I guess if you pay lobbyist enough you can get away with anything.

Microsoft is definitely a good candidate here for TikTok. With them missing Mobile-rise and Social media-rise, this acquisition seems to be a desperate attempt to cement their position in a hyper growth consumer product that's both Mobile and Social Media. Question is, Would it impact Microsoft's image? I mean, Tik Tok is known for their addictive design and Privacy controversy, so not sure how it goes well with the recent Good-guy image Microsoft's trying to portray itself.

How does it fit in with the rest of their products and overall strategy is my question.

Now I see why trump announced he’s banning TikTok this weekend - he’s going for an ultimatum... let Microsoft buy you out, or we’ll ban you. China doesn’t usually give in to US bullying, so I can’t see TikTok budging on this

This is not good.

Facebook or Google would be worse, but Microsoft is only marginally less bad here.


It's moderately humorous that we have congressional antitrust hearings going on against Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google.

Meanwhile the largest company in the world by Q1 2020 market cap, a company that was found to be in violation of the antitrust act in the past, a company which now owns the most popular social network for business is about to acquire a significant part of the fastest growing social media platform.


Not good for Microsoft is more like it; reminds me of the attempted Yahoo acquisition.

Microsoft is a platform company; they do not "get" social media or user engagement (e.g. MSN, which has sputtered on feebly for years) so they'll wind up tanking TikTok for sure.


If this is a bad outcome, can I ask what would be good in your opinion?

Ideally? TikTok would grow organically and become another viable platform.

I'm a huge fan of competition and the free market. Consolidating social media platforms under ever-larger corporate banners is just bad.


Keeping it independent

This is far better than having facial recognition data in the hands of CCP. I am not a fan of US gov, but if I had the choice, I wouldn't side with CCP. The genie is already out and we've failed to put laws in place to stop all this data collection way back in 2004. Surprisingly, I feel comfortable with Microsoft having this data. What a world we've created.

For those who are skeptical, just watch the Vice doc on how China tracks people, it's on a whole another level: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLo3e1Pak-Y


I'm just against it getting gobbled up by one of the existing internet giants. Getting it out of China is fine by me.

Anyone who wants TikTok's facial recognition data can just scrape their videos and process them with their own models. If ByteDance can afford the storage and bandwidth, so can any interested surveillance agency.

Will there be any restriction regarding board members or executive positioning?

For example, are they allowed to offer board/executive position to Zhang Yiming (original owner of Bytedance)?


This honestly would take the cake for for stupidest purchase ever. I couldn't think of a way to lose money faster. Maybe they should also purchase Snapchat too.

> This honestly would take the cake for for stupidest purchase ever. I couldn't think of a way to lose money faster.

No comment on the potential TikTok acquisition by MSFT from me, but your quote reminds me of a lot of HN comments and opinions I heard elsewhere, but regarding Zuck and his WhatsApp and Instagram acquisition.

Everyone was pretty much clowning him as figuratively the dumbest man on earth who was simply lucky to make a ton of money off Facebook, who now was just throwing that money around at random acquisitions without having any idea what he was doing. A lot of people were also saying that it was all just out of desperation on his end, given that Facebook was going to die any moment soon. Six years later, most people agree that it was one of the smartest decisions he could've made.

In a similar vein, think back to when MSFT acquired Minecraft.


I appreciate this response. I agree that there is a parallel between the virality of WhatsApp and the virality of TikTok. I also thought the WhatsApp price was high, but now in retrospect we can see that actually it was quite low, because people around the world are using whatsapp to replace the functionality of so many different websites (social, ecommerce, gaming, news, payments, etc).

For TikTok however I think there are two concerns. Number one would be the political situation between USA and China. Number two would be the fact that Instagram, Snapchat, Youtube, Twitter, WeChat and so on have already captured so much of whatever there is to capture in this market. I would be surprised if TikTok became the next WhatsApp, I think it's much more likely to be the next Snapchat or Viber.

If I had to buy a Chinese company, it would be Huawei. But Microsoft would find a way to kill that too.


I’m sure people have better takes on it than I do... seems to me like data mining service became more popular than anyone would have ever guessed but..

Damn BusinessInsider... showing me a popup over the article on mobile saying:

> Sorry for the wait. We’re experiencing tremendous demand right now. The page will reload in 30 seconds and you will then get a chance to buy your access.

... after the article was already fully loaded. That’s some serious anti-consumer dark pattern bullshit.


TikTok does the same thing VINE did. Only VINE went out of business as people stole VINE videos and posted them on YouTube.

The companies that ended up consolidating most of the rights to the most popular Vines ended up printing millions of dollars per month for quite a while, I’m sure they still do well.

What value does Microsoft get out of this?

Looks like a desperate deal pushed by TikTok to get rid of "Chinese spyware" tag.

The deal makes no absolute sense.


A massive video library for computer vision and a huge data set on user actions taken for each video.

More bullish take... potentially the next YouTube.


Doesn't look like it's for the data.

For one thing, user gesture data or user action data can be automated with 3D software. Provides a far better set of training data.

Data for targeted advertisements? Microsoft is hardly in that business of selling ads.

I understand Mojang, because Minecraft is a platform that engages kids in meaningful ways. But TikTok is an app to waste time and shit post.


>For one thing, user gesture data or user action data can be automated with 3D software.

Not sure I get what that means.

>I understand Mojang, because Minecraft is a platform that engages kids in meaningful ways. But TikTok is an app to waste time and shit post.

Kids are definitely engaging in meaningful and interesting ways on TikTok. It would be an incredible overgeneralization to say otherwise. Is there a bunch of crap on there too? Sure, but you can write off the internet with the same logic. Crap is also fun, which has some value too.

The content on early YouTube wasn't what we have today either...


> Not sure I get what that means.

Generation of video clips of human gestures, by automating a 3D modeling software, like Blender, will give you not only the video, but also depth and other data related to the video.

If you are looking for sources to train your model to recognize depth / gestures, videos from TikTok are far less useful, than generating your own ones by automating or programming them.


Sorry, I’m talking about the user generated actions on the consumption side. Likes, shares, comments, pauses, loops.

Regardless my point on the data aspect of the acquisition wasn't meant to be the reason for the actual value of TikTok for Microsoft.


It is a chance to acquire the next YouTube. An incredible chance, if you ask me.

TikTok has the feel of something like Vine or Snapchat.

Sure, teens and kids are using it, but it feels like people will grow out of it.


I mean, people grew out of Friendster and MySpace too, until Facebook turned out to be the one they didn't grow out of.

Nobody knows, but it's worth a gamble.


Facebook is getting grown out of. The younger ones hardly see FB as the hip thing.

And, FB has morphed into more than just a way to meet friends. It has become the town square for the village idiot to shout at the top of his lungs as to how UFOs are implanting DNA into the cattle.


I think Facebook has gained an almost utility-like status among the general population. Sure, you might not be on it as much as you used to be a decade ago, but most people still consider having an account on it as useful. Facebook really saved itself by having a thriving Marketplace and various local groups. There's also many entertainment/meme pages, but there's plenty of competition for those.

I myself hardly ever log in to my account and haven't even posted anything on my "wall" (remember when that used to be term?) in nearly a decade, but I still find myself visiting the Marketplace whenever I need to occasionally buy/sell something or find a new apartment.


I used both Snapchat and TikTok extensively, and TikTok is like the farthest thing from Snapchat. It can't be more different.

They gain access to a huge community of mostly young people to promote their gaming products. You pair it with a good chat service, which they already have through Teams or Skype, and then you can take on Twitch or Discord, which are also gaining a lot of traction.

> you can take on Twitch or Discord

Microsoft already tried to take on Twitch, with Mixer, and failed. (Gamers will probably be wary about jumping onto Microsoft's next doomed platform.)

And anecdotally, Discord replaced Skype for a lot of people in the gaming community, and I don't see people leaving it very easily.


I find the closure of Mixer incredibly short sighted IF they end up buying TikTok. They easily could have rebranded/merged Mixer as TiKTok Live and moved their exclusive contracts over to the TikTok brand.

From the outside looking in, it seems like Mixer had other factors that contributed to the decision to close up shop[1].

It seems like Phil Spencer had a meeting with the affected ex-employee but nothing came out of it[2].

Adding on to that, a leaked town hall video really painted a grim image of the company and the management internally.[3]

[1]https://twitter.com/MilanKLee/status/1274830702538821632

[2] https://twitter.com/MilanKLee/status/1286008870935179266

[3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8RZxaSLyjUM


TikTok Live is already a feature.

Having live streaming built into the xbox platform + tiktok as a brand and audience would be a much more power combo than just mixer alone.


Is this the manager seen on the video[3] who was accused of racist behavior? I wonder if they still work at Microsoft, I also wonder who put these people in charge.

I don't believe Mixer was shut down because of bad management though, if the people in charge weren't getting results, then Microsoft would have just replace them.


A better foothold among consumers beyond the desktop PC? Microsoft has desired that for years, and this is it's chance to get it. It missed mobile phones and the rise of social media, but has an opportunity here to potentially get involved.

TikTok is massive. The deal would come with a _lot_ of data.

Looks like Trump is ordering them to sell their US operations.

ByteDance bought Musically for $1B in 2017 and turned it into TikTok. Three years later they are “forced” to divest it for $50B. They’re laughing their asses off to the bank

How much value is knocked off the valuation from US govt threatening a ban?

If it is in fact a source of personal information gleaned from Tik Tok users illicitly made available to China, it may have far more value to the Chinese government than the market value assigned to it.

How would this work? Splitting off US users would probably result in that part slowly dying because the non US part will / is going to be larger? Will US users be blocked from the non US TikTok?

Imo it doesn't make sense for Microsoft to buy it. They could' ve bought Facebook back in the day but Zuck probably wouldn't sell. Pls Microsoft buy it and destroy it by your mismanagement.

The ever decreasing robustness property of the ecosystem which loses diversity and becomes more centralized. I don't know if FAANG gaining more and more power is a good thing for the world.

What happens when Google is left out of having a social media business when most of the things are happening in the social media these days? They tried few times and looks like gave up.

They still have youtube which is in a league of its own and while it may not be consiered a "social network" it's still definitely social media, arguably more than even TikTok could be considered as.

Microsoft might want to get rid of the advertizing businesses (like Bing) and merging Bing with Tiktok would create a mini Google-Youtube spinoff that would be very hot.

But why? It doesn't fit into anything. Sure Microsoft has previously bought weird things, but lately they've been pretty focused. Why would they buy TikTok+

The allure of a highly used social product seems to always tempt FAANG companies. The same reason Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook would want this is why Microsoft wants it too.

There’s probably something to owning regular attention & data on a majority share of US smartphones, regardless of the specific platform or app.

TikTok presumably hits a broad audience that Office / Outlook / Teams do not.


Perhaps you could evolve another mobile OS out of TikTok that is not Android or iOS. MicroSoft failed to get traction with its two previous mobile OSes (perhaps because they were basically offering reworked Windows).

Companies can sometimes act as VC firms and make acquisitions purely as an investment, a growth engine they can use for their core businesses.

The same reason why they bought Minecraft and tried Mixer: to acquire the next generation of technology consumers.

This looks like such a mismatch.

Also, does it make sense to pay the rumoured $50 billion for a company with no moat? Even US revenue expectations for this year were $0.5 billion.


trump's executive order should lower the price...

Person confirming this:

https://twitter.com/CGasparino?s=21

I don’t know how reputable the source is.


Seems to have a solid reputation and experience.

https://www.foxbusiness.com/person/g/charles-gasparino

He doesn't say the source, only reports it, so not sure what the issue is here.


Gasparino puts forth a lot of very dodgy or outright false "SCOOPS" (as he calls them on his Twitter account). They're always couched in terms like "according to my sources" or "this is what I'm hearing" so that he has plausible deniability if they don't come to pass.

You can even see it in the headline to this story: "Sources speculate one name to buy TikTok is Microsoft"


It's amazing the nochalance this forum has as they witness our own GFW being built around us. In all likelihood TikTok will get neutered, American teenagers will figure how to use VPNs to access Douyin just like their Chinese peers already do for Youtube, and some of you HNers will be the ones working on the anti-VPN systems used to stop them. You will tell yourself that you're doing good and that you're protecting the country from foreign influence, but the next generation of Hackers will hate you nonetheless.

A lot of the comments here seem to forget that the US isn't the only country that banned TikTok. Also Japan is about to ban it too.

It's also banned in India which probably had the most tiktok users

TikTok acquired an app called Musically, which was a US app.

Edit: acquired


Musical.ly (stylized as musical.ly) was a social media service headquartered in Shanghai with a US office in Santa Monica, California.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musically


Has MS ever not ruined an acquisition? Even TFS is markedly worse than the competition if you’re afforded the opportunity to shop around.

I don't see how one can trust their Azure platform if Microsoft gets in bed with TikTok.

It completely deletes all their digital trust.


In short, only American companies can have access to the brains of Americans.

There is no law to prohibit an app of being used in US, and there is no evidence TikTok broke any existing law operating within US. All the talking point being so far is because it's a chinese company.

This is literally how black people was treated.

It's interesting to see how protectionism change the country brand of equal business opportunity and spirit of the law.


The analogy would only make sense if black people were a foreign economic and nuclear powerhouse that have been blocking US apps with even more prejudice.

Tit for tat restrictions are standard practice with international trade and not evidence of racism.


It would be equivalent if Tiktok is banned in the US and only in the US. But this forced sale of Tiktok would definitely include TikTok's non US business as well. The intention from the U.S. government is to not allow Chinese nationals to own any impactful business or technology not only in the US but internationally. Huawei's case was 5G, tiktok and bytedance is social media.

Bytedance is incorporated in the Cayman islands. Yes it is founded by a Chinese national, but it also have non-Chinese people on its board and in the management. And Chinese people do not all agree with the government, or ccp's ideology push.

Bytedance has a Hongkong subsidiary to manage mainland China business, one of them is douyin. And U.S. subsidiary to manage Tiktok. Douyin and TikTok are separate products, no data is shared between them. The U.S. subsidiary is managed by Americans and employs American. Content regulation is managed by Americans, Data is stored in the U.S. Tiktok is planning for outside review of the data security and algorithms for recommendation system. There is no way Chinese government can force their censorship on to tiktok. Why would TikTok employees agree to Chinese government's demands? They are Americans living in America. How will Chinese government enforces their demands? The only thing they could do is force shutting down Douyin in China or arrest the Bytedance's management in they reside on Chinese soil. But if that happens it would be another news story. There is no legal means for which Chinese government can exert control over Tiktok. Therefore I don't think Tiktok being forced to censor speech or hand data to Chinese government is really realistic.

Source: https://www.bytedance.com/en/ see corporate structure


> There is no way Chinese government can force their censorship on to tiktok.

Really?

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/sep/25/revealed-...

> TikTok, the popular Chinese-owned social network, instructs its moderators to censor videos that mention Tiananmen Square, Tibetan independence, or the banned religious group Falun Gong, according to leaked documents detailing the site’s moderation guidelines.

Stop with this propaganda please.


It doesn't necessarily have to be the case. Uber was sold off in china without selling off operations elsewhere.

fwiw china didn't block US apps, it's china blocks apps decide not to follow the chinese law, regardless if it's US app or from any other country.

If tiktok has child porn or some other illegal stuff, i'm totally fine with blocking it. But in this case, the only evidence so far is, it's a chinese app, not because it's breaking any law.


That is absolutely not true. China has blocked and shut down plenty of services that are following the law simply for protectionist or narrative control reasons. When twitter clones started popping up in China they shut down 11 services and chose a single one to survive, that being Weibo.

China does not block US apps.

That is one of the most ignorant things I have ever read on HN. Pretty much everything out out by Facebook, Google, and Twitter does not work in china. It's common knowledge.

yea that's how media made the headlines

Protectionism arises when there is not equal business opportunity between nations and when nations have knowledge of unethical government campaigns using related corporations. I don't see how this is similar to treating black people. Maybe you meant Uighurs?

> hen nations have knowledge of unethical government campaigns using related corporations

NSA has pretty bad records of spying all over the world, and all US companies have to work with US judicatory system under the court permission. In that convention, all over the world should have blocked US companies.

> I don't see how this is similar to treating black people

Because their skin is black, not because there is evidence of any law breaking, they are treated differently.

I don't want to get into uighurs talk, "reeducation camp" could as well be a more restrict boarding school under different context, but this is not related.


Migrate it to Azure. It'll get renamed to TikTok 360 because of the downtime.

They should by many metrics it is the fastest growing social media app.

Another "If ya can't beat'em, join'em."?

This is from Bloomberg's coverage of the story:

"President Donald Trump plans to announce a decision ordering Bytedance to divest its U.S. ownership of TikTok, according to people familiar with the matter. The U.S. has been investigating potential national security risks due to the Chinese company’s control of the app. Trump’s decision could be announced as soon as Friday, said the people."

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-07-31/microsoft...

Microsoft Is Said to Be in Talks to Buy TikTok in U.S.


Microsoft finally gets their own social media play

TikTok is politically poisonous. Why would they?!?

Because it's incredibly popular.

I think it's a bad idea because I think TicTok is only a year or two away from their peak until another app catches the zeitgeist.


MySpace was incredibly popular. Now it's used by the underbelly of society.

I mean...money? TikTok is massive. Slightly smaller than Instagram, more than double the size of Twitter. It's a bargain even at $50bn.

Watch as the political "poison" of TikTok's rampant user surveillance is magically transmuted away once it is acquired by an American tech company!

But that's the exact issue, it's political poison because of who owns it. Why would it be "magically transmuted away"? That's literally the entire point.

My point is that it's funny that what makes TikTok poisonous is not the incredibly intrusive surveillance itself, but rather the fact that it's being done by a foreign company/government (which ultimately can probably do a lot less harm to Americans with all that info than Microsoft or the US government).

Yep, probably the main reason why they want to sell it to a US based company.

Tiktok bans all political content. It's literally the opposite of politically poisonous.

And so the march towards WW3 hastens..

Microsoft's ownership is a kiss of death. See: WebTV, Skype, Yammer, Hotmail, Groove, Danger, et cetera.

The kids will always move on to something else.


Minecraft seems to have worked out ok so far.

> Microsoft's ownership is a kiss of death.

Strategically the only thing that matters is that TikTok is removed from foreign ownership and that that weak spot in US Internet dominance is removed, so the US can resume global hegemony over platforms (outside of China).

Microsoft generates enough cash every year to safely buy a TikTok annually.

The US Government is probably throwing Microsoft a wink on this one. Despite generating $53 billion pear year in operating income and still having a desktop monopoly, Microsoft was excluded from the recent government grilling.

Maybe Microsoft will get a nice Azure contract in return.

In a year or a few, Microsoft IPOs TikTok or works with private equity to shift its ownership and then Microsoft washes their hands of it, taking a small bath in the process (if they can pull an IPO fast enough, given this market, maybe even making some money on the deal). Sometimes you gotta do a favor for Uncle Sam.


Disagree, this would give MS a strong foothold in social media that the next generation is flocking too.

If you haven't noticed, the pendulum is swinging towards decentralized, distributed computing systems.

This has happened previously in history (mainframe -> PC, back to Cloud Computing, and now to edge/IoT).

If you want to "skate where the puck is going" you would be paying attention to the open web standards space.


Any standards in particular?

Linkedin? MSN messenger very cool with us when I was young.

yeah, I feel the same way about LinkedIn too.

Linkedin is as uncool as ever but it doesn't feel like Microsoft's ownership has been much of a kiss of death

Nonsense. Skype has cornered the market in prank calling. Now they just need to monetize it.

GitHub?

Yep, not even GitHub is immune from the Microsoft kiss of death:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GitHub#ICE_Contract


ICE was a GitHub customer beginning in 2016, before the Microsoft acquisition. https://github.blog/2019-10-09-github-and-us-government-deve...

SCP QDOS? :)

Facebook and Instagram seem to be doing ok.

They haven’t been bought by Microsoft.

Microsoft has a significant ownership stake in Facebook:

http://whoownsfacebook.com/#Microsoft


I tried TikTok, I don't think it is as great as what others told me. The content is very repetitive.

I think imgur has better variations.


what makes you all think ByteDance will agree to sell their top product in 1st place?

Just saw in the WSJ: "Microsoft has paused negotiations to buy the U.S. operations of the video-sharing app TikTok after President Trump said late Friday he opposed the deal, according to people familiar with the matter."

This aged well.

Does Trump have the power to just order a company to be broken up like this?

I get that there’s a national security angle to this, but I imagine there would be outrage if he unilaterally decided to break up Facebook, for example.


Trump is not acting totally unilaterally here. The intelligence community is critical of TikTok as well as multiple republican senators.

In fact, it's even possible that the government is involved in this purchase in some form, by either using their good standing as big MS customers (how many federal employees run Windows+Ms Office computers?), or by offering money directly, something that is purported to have happened when Microsoft purchased Skype a few years ago. Getting rid of E2EE for Skype, which Microsoft eventually did, was a big request of the US intelligence community.

Ultimately it'd be a good resolution to the issue. No more spying by China and American teenagers can safely continue using the app.


Would they merge it with Linkedin?

LinkedIn is already indistinguishable from Facebook. Feels like a dead platform with no purpose.

Congratz on new cat Mike!


Dead platform with no purpose? I’ll assume you aren’t in management or the job market then

I don't think they'd be well served to, in the same way that the main Facebook app isn't merged with Instagram (although they can share some logins/etc).

They're targetting different demographics, and are used very differently (Job searching vs short-form videos).


So now the US is nationalising a foreign company because they are communist ...

It's not because they're communist, it's just because they're successful and not under America's control.

Wait, so I'm going to have to install the TikTok For Business with Sharepoint integration in my Teams?

I guess anything makes sense to a company that paid $26 billion USD for LinkedIn.


Jokes aside, it probably would be a nice addition to their consumer-oriented portfolio (i.e. xbox, minecraft, etc), if they're planning to stay relevant in the FAANG-taking-over-the-world state of reality these days.

Steve Jobs once said about Microsoft that their only problem is that they have no taste. And it's decisions like this that illustrate what he meant. TikTok is such a clash with everything Microsoft stands for as a company (if there is such a thing). It makes no sense.

I agree with you if looking at this from a historical perspective. However, l can see this working out for MS if TikTok remains a wholly owned, but independently operated subsidiary. If they buy it and largely 'leave it alone' to continue with its own leadership team and operational independence (as it seems github has been allowed to), I can see it being a net gain for MS and TikTok. The integration plan would make or break this (rumored) acquisition.

It's still a $1T+ company, that's the metric that matters when evaluating the "worth" of a business. So in that sense, the market has a "taste" for Microsoft.

Honestly I don't give a flying fuck about a company's market cap, I care about what it offers to me and the world.

Markets are a means to an end, not something to fetishize.


Market cap is actually a quite precise estimation of what company offers to the world.

Money is just information about usefulness. If you are useful to other people you've got money. If someone is useful to you, you give money.


Unfortunately price is the information. It is actually a better indicator of quality than many other attributes. Not a perfect one but better.

I think he meant MS didn’t understand that design was opinionated and that some design opinions were better than others.

That’s absolutely amazingly on the mark.

at this point its almost 'on brand' for microsoft to buy it

The content-moderation headaches of a social network alone should be enough to scare anyone away. I can't imagine this actually being a serious story, but that could be my lack of imagnination.

Microsoft is more relevant than a few companies in the FAANG list.

> to their consumer-oriented portfolio (i.e. xbox, minecraft, etc)

Yeah. Symbian, Meego,..


Maybe they're relaunching their Sidekick phones!

>I guess anything makes sense to a company that paid $26 billion USD for LinkedIn.

Is there data to support that this was overvalued? Not personally a big fan of LinkedIn, but it seemed like probably a good long-term buy for Microsoft.


I don't know, tbh. But to my understanding, it was not profitable before the acquisition. It does generate ~5 billion dollars in revenue now, but Microsoft won't tell you how much of that is profit.

Even if I charitably apportion 1B profit (which I bet Microsoft would trumpet if that was a thing), that's 20+ years to make the 26B back.

My bigger problem with LinkedIn is that it's a cesspool of recruiter spam.

Lynda.com was the only worthwhile part of it, and I wonder if that's still around/popular.

I'm also bitter about them calling Windows Phone too expensive to keep going at around the same time, so I might be a bit biased :-)


>I don't know, tbh. But to my understanding, it was not profitable before the acquisition. It does generate ~5 billion dollars in revenue now, but Microsoft won't tell you how much of that is profit.

Isn't a valuation at ~5 years revenue pretty standard for a business acquisition?


Lynda.com was rebranded as "LinkedIn Learning" and is still around. My employer has access for all employees and I've taken a few good courses on there.

You're not taking into account any of the strategic value to Microsoft. Like how they can integrate LI Sales Navigator into Dynamics to compete with Salesforce, etc.

Dang, I loved the Windows Phone shell. Aesthetically, one of the best things MS has ever done.

Teams for Kids Pro Pass Plus

That'll be "TikTok for Business 365 Professional Edition" for you, sir.

We'll gonna have tiktok based video portfolio for interview.

You do know that LinkedIn is doing somewhere near $10 billion of revenue a year, right?

Big story!

How would that even function in practice? I am honestly baffled at this. If Trump is so eager to hinder TikTok (China's influence), then he should just ban the company like he did with Huawei and be done with it. The instant he does it, TikTok is doomed (internationally), they are a pure digital product.

Not sure if this is good. There is now a new trending app that is eating up TikTok users, its called Triller. Same concept but US made I think.

What happens if MSFT buy TikTok only for the users to migrate to the new flavour of the social media app.


I use TikTok a lot (there are >1M combined views on my videos) and I've never heard of it. A lot of good TikTokers from before the app really took off went to Byte (made by the dudes that made Vine) and it seems like Byte is the logical successor.

I expect most users will migrate eventually. TikTok had its charms because it was completely mismanaged. The discover feed had a mix between popular (>1M likes) and very unpopular (1-30 likes) videos and very odd videos, like someone slowly crushing a hornet to death inside a syringe, get popular often. Microsoft tends to have a "digital gentrification" effect on the services they take over; for example, when they bought Minecraft, they stopped adding `- removed Herobrine` to update logs. To a lot of fans it showed a lack of respect to the game and its culture. Many older players even refuse to play any Microsoft-created Minecraft versions because they changed a lot of core gameplay mechanics.

This same effect will probably hit their acquisition of TikTok. They'll make it so pro-equality posts make it to the feed more often (TikTok has a semi-4chan-ish culture around its humor rather than an "accepting" environment, though a minority of users are actually bigoted), polish the horrid UX, make good video effects rather than the very odd choices available now, and I expect they'll make it so videos can be longer (the default length is 15 seconds but you can make videos up to 60). This would ruin TikTok. The limitations imposed by TikTok's designers are crucial for fostering creativity (in my opinion, but I've made literally hundreds of videos on the platform). Without them, TikTok is just another video app.

One more thing- most TikTok users despise America. America, to the youth, is a rich bastard bully of a country with military bases across the world despite no other country having bases in America. They believe being spied on by China is preferable to being spied on by America; if you're spied on by China, what are they gonna do, try to send you propaganda? If you're spied on by America and they don't like you, they just send cops in plainclothes to your house to shoot you, and the cops don't even get charged. Even if Microsoft doesn't hurt TikTok, TikTok's further association with America alone will be enough to make users move.


> TikTok had its charms because it was completely mismanaged. The discover feed had a mix between popular (>1M likes) and very unpopular (1-30 likes) videos and very odd videos, like someone slowly crushing a hornet to death inside a syringe, get popular often.

Why is that a mismanagement? You said it yourself, it has its charms. (And I agree with you.) What is the goal of discover feed if not to have "its charms"? To the contrary, I think TikTok's discover feed is genius. It is very well managed, and I hope it doesn't change.


That was a bad example. A better one is that TikTok has no consistent guidelines on what videos are allowed on their platform. A video I made with "\actually buys heroin like a boss\" was allowed to stay up on the platform, but then another one with the same text was `Removed for violating Community Guidelines`. Someone I knew had their account taken down for pretending to, well, hump an anime body pillow, and yet they'd been featured in TikTok advertisements months before.

I think as long as the product management still retains Bytedance's DNA (and Douyin), it has a good prospect to survive and thrive. That's why I really hope that somehow they can have or keep in contact with Douyin product management folks.

Triller is ancient. If anything the next app is going to be Byte. Until that jumps the shark.

It would take nothing less than a from-scratch rewrite to achieve a high degree of confidence that all backdoors have been eliminated from the TikTok codebase. I hope Microsoft is up for that.

What gives you the low degree of confidence MS engineers couldn't do a complete scan of TikTok's codebase?

I don't have confidence about scans in general against novel attacks. Scans are effective against the threat model of off-the-shelf attacks, not a threat model of highly motivated, highly-skilled attackers capable of inserting subtle defects anywhere in a giant codebase.

Funny how Americans see this. I would trust Tiktok less the second it became US owned. We think software and businesses from Russia and PRC does bad things. We know US owned does. It is mindbaffling to me how anyone could believe the risks are lower with US owned software. Snowden's leaks was a complete failure for the common American. They have learned nothing at all. Good old red scare still works way better than facts.

That the US president is essentially threatening to nationalise TikTok shows just how far the US is willing to go to preserve their absolute dominance in social media.

"National security".

Well of course it is. All American social media allows the American intelligence services to surveil just about every person on this planet.

No other nation has ever had this power.


This would be hugely disappointing, the first international appealing social network outside of US Tech giants and they're potentially being forced to sell due to US Govt political strong arming. The world could use some diversity away from the US Tech giants.

As an aside, TikTok is the happiest & most enjoyable social network I've frequented, a few seconds to show off some talent is a great way to burn some downtime with unique entertainment. Would hate to see it fragmented & acquired, especially to a US giant.


ICQ was an Israeli company, so there's that.

Yeah though much smaller by today's standards, it was a different era where social networks weren't valued as much as they are now.

I'm meaning to say the world needs more diversity of powerful tech companies away from US Tech giants, that's relevant today.




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