Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella talks TikTok, Windows Phone, and Discord

TikTok logo
TikTok logo (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella recently discussed Windows Phone, Discord, and TikTok at the 2021 Code Conference.
  • Nadella called Microsoft's potential deal with TikTok the "strangest thing [he's] ever worked on."
  • The CEO also said that "Microsoft was doing a lot of things out of envy," which likely referred to Windows Phone.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella spoke at Vox Media's Code Conference last night. The CEO discussed "re-founding" Microsoft, Windows Phone, and Microsoft's previous interest in acquiring Discord (sort of). Nadella also recounted the saga of Microsoft's potential purchase of TikTok, which he referred to as the "strangest thing [he's] ever worked on."

Speaking of his earlier days at Microsoft, Nadella said that "Microsoft was doing a lot of things out of envy, not ... things that we were meant to do." He was likely referring to Windows Phone, according to The Verge's Dieter Bohn. Nadella suggested that Microsoft was envious of closed platforms but needed to "get back to what Windows is fantastic at, at being an open platform."

Kara Swisher hosted the event and tried to get Nadella to open up about Microsoft's pursuit of Discord. Nadella joked, "What is Discord?" Microsoft hasn't publicly confirmed that it was interested in Discord, so it's not surprising to see Nadella rebuff any discussions about it.

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Nadella did, however, dive into the strange saga of Microsoft almost acquiring TikTok. "It was the strangest thing. First of all, TikTok came to us, we didn't go to TikTok," said the CEO.

"President Trump had a particular point of view of what he was trying to get done there and then it just dropped off. I mean it was interesting. There was a period of time when I felt the USG had some particular set of requirements and then it just disappeared."

Microsoft's CEO mentioned that TikTok uses artificial intelligence and is based in the cloud. Microsoft also invests heavily in these areas, so the social media giant could have potentially been a good fit with Microsoft. Nadella said that TikTok was an "interesting product."

The legal saga surrounding TikTok's potential sale involved the app being banned in the U.S. and Microsoft's CEO calling President Donald Trump directly. Microsoft president Brad Smith details the situation in his book Tools and Weapons: The Promise and the Peril of the Digital Age.

Ultimately, Microsoft did not acquire TikTok. Microsoft appears to have moved on from any desire to acquire the social media platform. "At this point, I'm happy with what I have," said Nadella.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com (opens in new tab).

3 Comments
  • It was definitely weird, but it was driven by even weirder White House policy. Also, it can't be any weirder than Dieter Bohn, who knows nothing about Microsoft, covering Microsoft.
  • That means windows for mobile is dead hardly.
  • Assuming that the comments about being envious actually WAS referring to WP, he would likely be referring to the iPhone in particular, but can you blame them? They were a major force in mobile computing's genesis and then got rendered nearly irrelevant by a far more simplified approach. And then Android blew up strictly because of it being free to manufacturers and Google's ubiquity, not so much because of it being an open platform.