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Alphabet Now Showing Interest In TikTok: Report

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Alphabet, the parent company of Google, has reportedly considered buying a small stake in TikTok. The Mountain View company wanted to invest in the popular video-sharing app as part of a broader group bid. However, "the effort fizzled in recent days," Bloomberg reports citing people familiar with the matter.

According to the report, a group of companies including Alphabet has had a discussion about forming a consortium to invest in TikTok. Alphabet wasn't leading the talks but wanted a "minority, non-voting stake" in the Chinese social media app.

It's unclear who was at the forefront of this nascent consortium and why the talks ended so early. However, "Alphabet hasn't ruled out participating in future bids," the report cites a person who chose to remain anonymous.

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Alphabet may still consider investing in TikTok

TikTok is facing a ban in the US, unless ByteDance, the Chinese owner of the app, sell off the business to some American company. Microsoft emerged as the early candidate interested in acquiring the company's arms in the US and a few other countries.

The Trump administration had given a deadline of until mid-September for TikTok to strike a deal or face ban. While this decision was lauded by many, there were some backlashes as well. People working in the US arm of the company also expressed an understandable dissatisfaction with the decision. The American government has now extended the deadline until November 12, 2020.

Along with Microsoft, Oracle and Twitter have also shown interest in buying out TikTok in the US. And now, it appears there are many more interested candidates. However, Microsoft is so far the only company to publicly confirm the talks with ByteDance. It’s unclear how far the discussions from other potential bidders have gone.

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As for Alphabet, the company was seeking to buy a stake on TikTok through one of its investment arms. It already has a private equity arm called CapitalG which has backed Chinese firms. So there's still a possibility of it investing in TikTok. The company itself is unlikely to acquire TikTok US as a whole, and for many reasons.

Any company buying TikTok in the US would be subject to severe regulatory scrutiny. Google is already facing several investigations for potentially anticompetitive behavior. It's $2.1 billion acquisition of Fitbit last November is yet to get regulatory approvals.

Additionally, Google already has a similar service in the form of YouTube. Although TikTok is all about short-form videos, YouTube is also working on a similar "Shorts" product that'll offer the same purpose.

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Both Alphabet and TikTok declined to comment on the recent reports.