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Sep 19, 2020 02:47 am ·

Trump Plans to Block WeChat and TikTok Downloads on Sunday

The Commerce Department plans to restrict access to TikTok and WeChat on Sunday as the Trump administration's executive orders against the two apps are set to take effect, according to CNN business. The Department said Friday that, as of Sunday, any moves to distribute or maintain WeChat or TikTok on an app store will be prohibited.  While users who have already downloaded the apps may be able to continue using the software, the restrictions mean updated versions of the apps cannot be downloaded. The restrictions targeting WeChat are more extensive. Beginning Sunday, it will be illegal to host or transfer internet traffic associated with WeChat. WeChat, one of the world's most popular social messaging apps, is owned by the Chinese Internet giant Tencent. And it is a popular marketing and sales tool for the United States companies, primarily in China. TikTok's parent company is Beijing-based ByteDance.  The department's move is the enforcement of Trump's original executive order from Aug 6 that gave TikTok 45 days to sell its US business to an American company or face a ban in that country. But the announcement also lays out a different time frame specific to TikTok, giving it until Nov 12 to resolve the US national security concerns.  The deadline set for the TikTok deal is a Sunday, Nov 12, leaving time for TikTok and Oracle to hammer out a deal that can be approved by Trump and the Chinese government.

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Aug 10, 2020 05:25 pm ·

Competing with Microsoft, Twitter Joins the Bidding Game to Buy TikTok

Last weekend was not easy for Microsoft. After the tech giant announced its negotiation with ByteDance for a potential purchase of TikTok at the beginning of August, the US social media Twitter joined the game. Many US media outlets reported that Twitter is negotiating with TikTok about the US business’s potential acquisition of the China-founded app. However, Microsoft is still a few steps further ahead – and its deal also covers TikTok’s business in Canada, Australia and New Zealand, as well as the US. Compared to Microsoft’s USD 1.6 trillion, Twitter’s market value is much smaller, at USD 29 billion. Considering the disclosed USD 30 billion ceiling value for TikTok, stated by Microsoft, Twitter can only think of external financing to complete the deal. However, it is also not a simple game for Microsoft. The US anti-trust regulation, typical post-acquisition business integration and legal issues can also become potential bombs for the tech giant. “Who knows what’s going to happen with that deal,” as Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates indicated in an interview, “But yes, it’s a poison[ed] chalice.” Indeed, ByteDance needs to think about more than finding a rich US acquirer – deal-related impacts on overseas market and users, for one. The 45-day deadline mentioned in the Executive Order under the US president Trump has been giving pressure to the young Chinese company. From the perspective of business synergies, cooperation with an established social media entity does not seem a less sound option.

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Aug 7, 2020 10:00 pm ·

The Ban Seems Less Dangerous for Tencent than ByteDance

August 6, 2020, Trump took additional steps in his mobilization against Chinese technology, targeting another China's giant in the form of Tencent. Similar to the action on TikTok, the messaging service app WeChat owned by Tencent will be banned, as will any US transactions with Tencent. Those executive orders, released late Thursday, will take effect in 45 days. Again, the US government cited national security issues when announcing restrictions on two popular Chinese social media apps. Now, under extremely high pressure, ByteDance is seeking an acquisition agreement with a US company; Microsoft is currently negotiating with ByteDance to acquire part of TikTok, which is scheduled to be completed on September 15. About the impact of this executive order: 1) In 2019 Q4, Tencent's overseas game revenue accounted for 23% of overall game revenue, which was a relatively low percentage of its total revenue. It's been estimated that revenue from the US accounted for about 20% of overseas game revenue, and less than 5% of Tencent's overall game revenue, and less than 1% of the company's overall revenue – therefore, the ban has a limited impact on the company's revenue; 2) In terms of advertising, overseas WeChat users account for a relatively low proportion of WeChat's overall users. The number of US users is limited, and the level of monetization is low. It will not have a significant impact on advertising business revenue; 3) In other social entertainment fields (video, music, reading), the company's main business is concentrated in China. The current domestic market payment penetration rate is still low, and long-term development space is sufficient; 4) In terms of cloud business, in April 2018, the US Trade Representative Office (USTR) began to work on restrictions on cloud computing services invested by Chinese companies in the U.S., After that, Chinese activity in the US is relatively limited. The main overseas revenue comes from the European and Southeast Asian markets. Tencent's current major investments in the US include: Riot Games (holding controlling interest); Epic Games (holding 48.4% stake); Activision Blizzard (holding 6.0% stake); Spotify (holding 10.0% stake); Snapchat (holding 10.0% stake; Tesla (holding 5.0 stake). According to an analyst from Huatai Financial Holdings, Tencent's current investments in the US are mainly in the field of entertainment content and do not involve the social communications field that this ban focuses on, and Tencent does not have a controlling stake in most of the companies it invests in, that is, it does not have the authority to obtain and manage user data. It's been estimated that Tencent's main investment in the US currently only accounts for about 3% of Tencent's current market value, and the overall risk is controllable.

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Aug 6, 2020 06:30 pm ·

Targeting TikTok, Facebook Launches Short Video App Reels

Taking advantage of TikTok's ongoing deep political crisis, Reels stands a good chance of taking advantage of the conflagration and succeeding. On August 5th, Facebook officially launched its short video application, Instagram Reels, in more than 50 countries and regions, including the United States, Japan, and Australia. Reels was first launched in Brazil in 2018, followed by France, Germany and India. Its function is similar to TikTok; through Reels, users can record a 15-second video, and add music and a series of filters and effects. Earlier, TikTok CEO Meyer said in a blog that Facebook is currently "disguising as patriotism" its intention to provide "imitator" services. At the same time, it was pointed out that Reels was the second time Facebook tried to imitate TikTok. Facebook tried a TikTok clone software called Lasso before, but this disappointed. In a video conference call with reporters on Tuesday, Instagram’s vice president of product, Vishal Shah also acknowledged the similarities between Reels and TikTok, and said that “the inspiration for the product comes from anywhere, including the Facebook team and the wider ecosystem system.” However, Instagram product director Robbie Stein said that, although TikTok popularized the short video format, the two products are different. "I think TikTok's promotion in the field of short videos is commendable. This is a great job," Robbie Stein said. "But in the final analysis, no two products are exactly the same, and neither is ours." According to Robbie Stein, the biggest difference between Reels and TikTok is the connection with the Instagram ecosystem. People can send videos to friends directly on Instagram, and they can also use Instagram-specific AR filters and tools. Earlier, the Wall Street Journal reported that Reels had laid out a generous incentive plan in an attempt to attract creators on TikTok to transfer to the platform. In fact, due to the uncertain future of TikTok, some of the top creators on the platform have indeed begun to transfer to other platforms. There is no doubt that TikTok has always been regarded as a threat to Facebook. Taking advantage of TikTok's woes certainly seems to be the primary motivation in launching Reels around the global at this point in time.

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