Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has called the company's potential TikTok deal a "cup of poison". In a comprehensive interview with Wired, Gates makes it clear that Microsoft's acquisition of parts of TikTok will not be easy or straightforward. "Who knows what will happen to this deal," says Gates. "But yes, it is a poison chalice." He also notes that being a big player in the social media business is "not an easy game" as Microsoft will grapple with a whole new level of content moderation.
When asked if Gates is cautious about Microsoft getting into the social media game, he suggests that with more competition, Facebook is "probably a good thing," but that "Trump is killing the only competitor, it's pretty bizarre ".
Gates seems just as confused as the rest of us about how this potential TikTok deal is going, especially when President Trump suggests that the US Treasury Department need some sort of cut from any acquisition. "I agree that the principle by which this is done is strangely strange," says Gates. "The cut thing, that's doubly strange. Microsoft definitely has to deal with all of this."
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.
Photo by Ryan Manning / The Verge
Gates' comments come just days after Microsoft confirmed it was pursuing a deal to buy TikTok's operations in the US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. According to reports, Microsoft may be considering purchasing all of TikTok's global operations. The Financial Times suggests that talks on this particular deal are in the "tentative" phase.
President Trump also claimed last week that he was in the US a day before the TikTok ban, before later setting a September 15 deadline for Microsoft to complete the potential acquisition and avoid a TikTok ban.
It's a complicated deal that would give Microsoft a huge presence in the social media space if it were at risk of being part of a larger US-China trade war. Gates is clearly cautious about the takeover, but we're about a month away from seeing if it becomes a reality.