America is no stranger to threatening companies into seemingly ‘beneficial’ acquisitions. The reason TikTok’s parent company ByteDance is even considering giving up its U.S. shares is because of President Trump’s recent declaration that he may ban TikTok in the country. On the surface, his reasoning isn’t flawed. Due to China’s tight security laws, its government has the power to force a private firm’s hand into sharing confidential data. There is also speculation amongst U.S. officials surrounding the fact that China may use TikTok for espionage – and even to influence election outcomes.
But American companies have a terrible track record when it comes to acquisitions: terrible because they refuse to reach a middle ground, instead choosing to power ahead at full speed. TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer has stated he may be open to making the app’s database more transparent, in terms of letting third parties check who has access to whose data. However, because of a lag in achieving this transparency, the U.S. is unwilling to explore this more neutral possibility and remains determined to follow through with its threat of a potential ban.
Microsoft Corporation seems to be the chosen ‘saviour’ for this one. Reportedly, its stock has gone up by 80 billion dollars since the start of sale negotiations. Why wouldn’t Microsoft be exceedingly eager to make sure the deal goes through? It is probably seeing dollar signs in its sleep already.
Ironically, four major tech companies – Facebook, Amazon, Google, Apple – will soon be going on trial to answer to antitrust parties concerned about the nature of their practices. In such a tenuous climate at home, how can American officials cast stones at others? Admittedly, security and privacy for TikTok users is a legitimate concern, and a country has the right to protect its citizens’ data. But U.S. corporations are in hot water themselves – even more so if one studies their past acquisition practices, and the avariciousness that underlies their every move.