Bill Gates calls potential Microsoft-TikTok deal 'poison chalice'

Tiktok Microsoft Logo Hero
Tiktok Microsoft Logo Hero (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates chimed in on Microsoft's potential acquisition of TikTok in a new interview.
  • Gates called the deal a "poisoned chalice," referencing the complications of running a social media platform.
  • Microsoft is said to be interested in acquiring all of TikTok, though a new order effectively banning it in the U.S. may complicate things.

Last week, word broke that Microsoft was in talks to acquire TikTok amid threats of its ban in the U.S. because of its Chinese ownership. The story has evolved considerably since then, with President Trump most recently issuing an executive order that would effectively ban the app in 45 days. Now, former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates has briefly chimed in on the deal in an interview with Wired.

As part of a larger interview about pandemic testing in the U.S., Gates was asked about his thoughts on the TikTok deal. "Who knows what's going to happen with that deal," Gates said. "But yes, it's a poison chalice. Being big in the social media business is no simple game, like the encryption issue."

"I mean, this may sound self-serving, but I think that the game being more competitive is probably a good thing," Gates said in response to a question about whether he was "wary" of Microsoft getting into the social media game. "But having Trump kill off the only competitor, it's pretty bizarre."

Going further, Gates said that the way the potential deal is playing out is "strange," but the Trump administration's request for a cut of any deal is "doubly strange." Ultimately, Gates says, "Microsoft will have to deal with all of that."

Following word about Microsoft's interest in TikTok last week, talks were said to be on hold contingent on how the Trump administration would approach its rumored ban. On Sunday, Microsoft confirmed it was indeed in talks with TikTok, and that they had resumed after discussions with the Trump administration. On Tuesday, President Trump signaled that he would be okay with Microsoft purchasing TikTok as long as the deal is done by September 15.

As of August 6, reporting indicates that Microsoft is interested in buying all of TikTok's global business. Prior to this, it was thought that just the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand markets were being considered.

In response to the ongoing efforts by the Trump administration, Chinese state media called the moves a "smash and grab" and vowed retaliation is the U.S. carries out its "theft" of a Chinese company. After the Trump administration issued an executive order that could ban TikTok in the U.S. should a deal not be reached, TikTok slammed the executive order, stating that it was "issued without any due process."

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Dan Thorp-Lancaster

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl