Mi­crosoft’s res­cue at­tempt of Tik­Tok en­dears old com­pany to new gen­er­a­tion

Cape Breton Post - - BUSINESS - SHEILA DANG

Mi­crosoft has emerged as a sav­ior to young users of Tik­Tok, who praised the tech in­dus­try gi­ant for try­ing to buy parts of the so­cial me­dia com­pany's oper­a­tions, in hopes of avoid­ing a U.S. shut­down.

Bear­ing hash­tags like #SaveTik­Tok and #Mi­crosoft, which have at­tracted nearly 1 bil­lion views com­bined, Tik­Tok'ers–- an over­whelm­ingly young group that uses the app to cre­ate short dance, lip-sync, com­edy and tal­ent videos – em­braced a com­pany founded by peo­ple their grand­par­ent's age and whose former chief ex­ec­u­tive's prein­ter­net-era on­stage out­bursts and pro­fuse sweat­ing are now a YouTube meme.

A look at Mi­crosoft's track record on re­cent ac­qui­si­tions, in­clud­ing build­ing game Minecraft in 2014 and busi­ness net­work­ing site LinkedIn in 2016, could val­i­date Tik­Tok users' op­ti­mism, an­a­lysts said.

In re­cent years, Mi­crosoft has taken a hands-off ap­proach to in­te­grat­ing new ac­qui­si­tions, said Mike Vorhaus, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Vorhaus Ad­vi­sors, a dig­i­tal me­dia con­sult­ing firm. For ex­am­ple, Mi­crosoft left Minecraft's team op­er­at­ing in Europe, he said.

“You don't want to lose (Tik­Tok's) se­cret sauce, but you want them to gain from Mi­crosoft,” he said.

Mi­crosoft has largely aban­doned its his­toric prac­tice of ty­ing all of its prod­ucts back to its Win­dows op­er­at­ing sys­tem or other prop­er­ties. Minecraft apps have no ob­vi­ous con­nec­tion to Mi­crosoft. Its sales have quadru­pled over the six years since it was ac­quired and it now reaches 126 mil­lion monthly users.

Un­der Satya Nadella, who took over as Mi­crosoft CEO in 2014, the com­pany pur­chased two large on­line com­mu­ni­ties that it has al­lowed to op­er­ate es­sen­tially au­tonomously. Af­ter ac­quir­ing busi­ness-ori­ented net­work LinkedIn for $26.2 bil­lion, LinkedIn kept its brand iden­tity, CEO and its own of­fices, while GitHub, the code-repos­i­tory ser­vice ac­quired in 2018, has con­tin­ued to build tools that help devel­op­ers use Mi­crosoft's ri­vals.

JT Casey, a Tik­Tok user with 2.8 mil­lion fol­low­ers, said he was ini­tially wor­ried about the idea of Mi­crosoft's own­er­ship, but con­cluded there is a po­ten­tial change that could ben­e­fit video cre­ators.

“I re­al­ized Mi­crosoft will fig­ure out a way to mon­e­tize bet­ter, which will lead to cre­ators mak­ing more money, as well as Mi­crosoft,” he said.

TIME RUN­NING OUT

While Tik­Tok's fans are laud­ing Mi­crosoft for com­ing to the res­cue af­ter Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump threat­ened a ban over con­cerns with how the Chi­nese-owned com­pany han­dled user data, they are con­sid­er­ing other op­tions.

Dmitri Robinson, a 20-year-old Tik­Tok user with more than 270,000 fol­low­ers, said short-form video apps Triller and Byte are seen as the top two con­tenders for the next hottest app among con­ver­sa­tions with friends and videos he has seen on Tik­Tok.

On Fri­day, when Trump told re­porters he planned to ban Tik­Tok as soon as that week­end, down­loads for four Tik­Tok ri­vals – Triller, Byte, Dub­s­mash and Li­kee – all spiked on Sun­day, ac­cord­ing to data from App­topia. Daily down­loads in the United States for Triller on Sun­day al­most dou­bled to nearly 62,000.

Face­book Inc's In­sta­gram is also ready­ing the global launch of its Tik­Tok ri­val, called Reels, which first de­buted in Brazil in Novem­ber.

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