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Donald Trump pushing Microsoft to buy TikTok was the ‘strangest thing I’ve ever worked on’, CEO Satya Nadella says

Former president Donald Trump’s push for Microsoft to purchase TikTok was one of the “strangest thing[s]” that chief executive Satya Nadella has ever worked on, the executive has said.

The Trump administration made numerous attempts to ban the short-form video app under vague claims of national security with regards to the Chinese government, but failed for legal reasons each time.

TikTok denied the allegations, but through a series of bizarre events was primed to be purchased by Microsoft, then a combination of Microsoft and Walmart, and then eventually database software giant Oracle. In June 2021, President Biden revoked the order that would have banned the app.

Speaking at the Code Conference, Mr Nadella revealed more details about the unfortunate series of events. “TikTok came to us, we didn’t come to TikTok,” he recalls, quoted by The Verge, in order to help with “these security things”.

President Trump seemed to have “a particular point of view on what he was trying to get done there, and then just dropped off,” he continued. “I mean, it was interesting. There was a period of time when I felt that the USG [United States Government] had some particular set of requirements, and then they just disappeared.”

Microsoft, in purchasing TikTok, said that it would have made “significant changes to ensure the service met the highest standards for security, privacy, online safety, and combatting misinformation”. Oracle did not promise the same changes, and critics suggested the move was lacklustre if the company did not have control over the code.

Microsoft was in the middle of negotiations with ByteDance when President Trump said that he would rather ban the app than allow it to be sold to a US company, Microsoft President Brad Smith recalls, as reported by Engadget, which “threw into disarray the careful negotiations we had pursued with ByteDance”

Mr Nadella says that he was “pretty intrigued” with purchasing TikTok and described it as a “a great property” because of the “growth and what have you”.

He added that “the rest is history," but when asked if he would purchase TikTok now if it was available, he declined. “At this point I’m happy with what I have,” the executive said.

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