Six thoughts about the TikTok sale

Data harvesting and geopolitics have made the video sharing app a hot property.

The ongoing TikTok sale of US and other assets has got us all thinking and for all sorts of reasons. The deal stands at the busy crossroads of mega-trends affecting the world, from the rise of social media to corporate data harvesting, geopolitics, data protection and privacy and the changing face of the corporate technological elite. This very much remains a moving target but I don't believe that the complexities make the situation quite so opaque as some do. Here are six thoughts on the deal…

 

The POTUS views Chinese tech as a threat

The US has gained a large part of its modern commercial success on the rise of the IT and digital sector. The confluence of high-class education, a spirt of innovation and entrepreneurialism and the marriage of academia and business set America apart from the rest of the world, creating giants from Intel to Microsoft and, more recently the search and social networks generations from Google to Facebook. The rest of the world is only now catching up with the amazing success of Silicon Valley and other hubs.

Donald Trump is alien to the largely liberal areas that are home to most tech giants and he appears far from a technophile. He has done little, apart from an initial rapprochement to attract the support of digital leaders. However, his policies appear to have helped to fill the coffers of many tech companies and their stocks today ride stratospherically high despite the Covid turmoil with Apple even touching an unprecedented $2 trillion market cap.

Trump's extraordinary TikTok intervention displays a fear over foreign digital influence and personal data being exported. We are seeing an escalating trade war with Beijing even as many American companies capitalise on China's modern prosperity and modernisation to sell more goods and services and strengthen supply chains. This is (cold) war and Trump's hardening stance against China, together with China's response, means that we are likely entering a period where US companies find it hard to win in China and Chinese firms will have their opportunities restricted in the US.

 

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