Walmart and Microsoft team up to buy TikTok as Disney dream boy quits

Business & Technology

TikTok’s brand-new CEO, poached from Disney, quits as Walmart and Microsoft team up to buy it.


A Walmart store, photo from Wikimedia.

Big TikTok news today:

TikTok’s new CEO has quit, after around three months on the job. Kevin Mayer left the Walt Disney Company to join TikTok in May this year. He explained his resignation in a note to his colleagues, per the New York Times: “In recent weeks…the political environment has sharply changed… Against this backdrop, and as we expect to reach a resolution [to TikTok’s sale] very soon, it is with a heavy heart that I wanted to let you all know that I have decided to leave the company.”

This should come as a surprise to no one: SupChina predicted that Mayer’s tenure would be short when he took the job in May.

  • The political environment has not “sharply changed” since then: This was always going to be a tough job. Being stuck between the governments of Donald Trump and Xí Jìnpíng 习近平 is tough for anybody, but it is hardest on technology companies.
  • Scientists and academic technology researchers have it pretty tough, too.

Mayer said TikTok anticipates coming to a “resolution very soon.” Zhāng Yīmíng 张一鸣, the CEO of TikTok’s Beijing-based parent company, ByteDance, gave a similar message in a note to employees reported by the New York Times (same link as above): “I cannot get into details at this point, but I can assure you that we are developing solutions that will be in the interest of users, creators, partners and employees.”

Here’s where Walmart and Microsoft come in: The two giant American companies are teaming up to buy TikTok: “The retail giant confirmed to CNBC that it’s interested in buying the popular short-form video application.”

Why did Kevin Mayer quit?

Mayer left Disney to do something cool — to lead a fascinating, independent media company that has won the hearts of young people across the world, and especially in America. And now he’s going to work for Walmart and Microsoft?


Why is this a good deal for Microsoft and Walmart?

There are two reasons:

  • Microsoft and Walmart are valuable, well-run businesses that make plenty of money. But they are deeply uncool. And in America, who doesn’t want to be cool? More importantly, being cool can also be very profitable.
  • “American General Store and American Computer Company are teaming up to bring you American Video-Streaming Social Media Service” was the comment on this deal from my colleague Jason MacRonald. In other words: Walmart and Microsoft are as American as apple pie. Who — at least in the Trump administration — could object to that vanilla odd couple owning the hearts and minds of America’s youth?

Why is this a good deal for ByteDance?

ByteDance would get $20 billion to $30 billion, according to CNBC. Not bad for a company founded in 2012 to sell one of its creations for such an astronomical price.

Other reports: