Since 2018, I have made the argument that Microsoft and LinkedIn can revolutionize retail. Specifically, what I have suggested is that LinkedIn become an integrated e-commerce and social media platform.
In addition, I have argued that Microsoft can make acquisitions to help the company achieve the goal. Among the companies I have recommended Microsoft acquire is TikTok.
I have also recommended that Google and Facebook explore acquiring TikTok. Oracle or SAP could potentially acquire TikTok as could the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia but I’m not convinced either would be a good fit for TikTok.
The Wild Card is Walmart – Walmart can’t afford to acquire TikTok on its own but it is conceivable that Walmart will partner with Microsoft. Microsoft may also choose to partner with FedEx or Berkshire Hathaway to acquire TikTok. The value of TikTok to Walmart is that it will allow Walmart to expand TikTok to more sellers. Walmart can expand TikTok to create mini-storefronts similar to Shopify and also add live-streaming video from sellers and brands hawking their products. Walmart can turn TikTok into an advertising platform for CPG companies. I believe TikTok is an infant in terms of where it is at in its growth curve.
Could Amazon acquire TikTok? Yes, it’s possible.
Based on reports, it appears Microsoft acquiring TikTok may happen.
According to several news reports, Microsoft is in talks to acquire TikTok’s U.S. business from ByteDance, the company that created TikTok. If the news is correct, it’s a brilliant move for Microsoft.
I believe Microsoft has exceptional potential to become a major player in retail by creating a new retail ecosystem of social media and immediate retail gratification. What makes TikTok such an incredible destination isn’t it’s short-form videos in my opinion, it’s the increased ability to shop on TikTok and watch videos.
Some retail analysts may question why Microsoft, a company primarily focused on enterprise software, would want to acquire TikTok. I’ll answer the question this way – In 2016, I made the argument that Walmart should not acquire Jet.Com and instead, Walmart should acquire Shopify.
Members of LinkedIn and retail analysts disagreed with me as they believed Jet.Com was a “better fit” for Walmart. I didn’t want Walmart to acquire Shopify because of fit, I wanted Walmart to acquire Shopify because I knew Shopify was going to explode from a valuation standpoint; certainly much higher than Jet.Com. (Jet.Com was shut down by Walmart and Shopify’s value continues to skyrocket).
I anticipate that TikTok is about to explode in valuation as well since the company is significantly selling more ads and products. TikTok is becoming a money machine thanks to the hundreds of millions of consumers that turn to TikTok for their daily dose of humor. TikTok is projected to experience double-digit growth past 2021.
Retail continues to morph into new directions. Consumers shop in stores but online sales are booming. Instead of sitting in front of a computer, consumers are increasingly using their phones to shop.
In China, Live streaming has become the go-to strategy for retailers. Old or young, retailers are hawking their products on live video feeds and interacting with consumers asking questions about their products. Live streaming has taken China’s $5.8 trillion retail market to the next level. (As more retailers turn to live streaming, I’m convinced that QVC will become an acquisition target. I’ve written that Amazon, Microsoft, Google or Facebook could acquire QVC).
With so many changes taking place in retail, I encourage Microsoft to leverage Skype for live stream video, and acquire TikTok for ads, retail, short-form videos and even original programming. TikTok is an infant in terms of what the app can become. I believe the possibilities for TikTok/LinkedIn/Skype are endless. Microsoft has an opportunity to reimagine retail.
A question that must be asked is this: Will President Trump and politicians in Washington support an acquisition of TikTok by Microsoft? I believe Trump wants to do everything in his power to ban TikTok (or at least Trump wants ByteDance and China to believe he will ban the app). The challenge for Trump is that TikTok is wildly popular in the U.S. and most people don’t view TikTok as a threat to national security. Banning the app could generate tremendous negative blowback. (I won’t be surprised if Trump claims he is shutting down TikTok and that he is against a deal between Microsoft and ByteDance only to change his mind and announce his support).
Behind the scenes, I believe the White House has already reached out to Microsoft to remind them that if President Trump hadn’t raised his objections about Amazon being awarded the $10B JEDI contract by the Pentagon, Microsoft would not have eventually been chosen over Amazon. In other words, Trump is putting pressure on Microsoft to acquire TikTok to put the app under U.S. control and fix any gaps in security. (Microsoft would be wise to generate as much goodwill in Washington, DC as possible).
This also brings up an interesting dilemma for Amazon – should they remain on the sidelines or should they make a bid for TikTok?
Frankly, I think TikTok’s monetization potential is so great that Google and Facebook should consider making a bid. The Wild Card – Walmart makes a bid for TikTok. (The company that should acquire TikTok is the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia).
My advice to Microsoft is make the deal if the terms are reasonable. It would be foolish to pass up an opportunity to acquire TikTok.