Donald Trump’s attempt to ban TikTok has turned into a bidding war of sorts to acquire the United States portion of its operation. The Chinese-owned social media platform has become an antagonist of sorts to the president, and his apparent concerns over privacy issues has sparked an interesting digital conversation, especially on his favorite platform: Twitter.
That discussion took a turn on Saturday, though, when the Wall Street Journal reported that Twitter is a long-shot bider to buy the US operation of the social media network. Microsoft has already shown interest and is apparently the frontrunner to buy TikTok from ByteDance, the network’s owner, but Twitter thinks it has at least one advantage in negotiations.
It is not clear what the valuation of TikTok’s U.S. operations would be, but estimates run into the tens of billions of dollars, which raises questions about how Twitter would finance any deal. Twitter’s market capitalization is about $29 billion and Microsoft’s is more than $1.6 trillion.
Because it is much smaller, Twitter has reasoned that it would be unlikely to face the same level of antitrust scrutiny as Microsoft or other potential bidders, said people familiar with the discussions.
Twitter buying TikToK, though, drew another social network to mind for many people: Vine. The six-second-or-less video platform was bought by Twitter in 2012, but abruptly shut down four years later with its apparent cost to keep going a concern. It’s still beloved by plenty of those online, and is remembered fondly in YouTube compilations and articles memorializing great Vines.
In many ways it’s generally believed that TikToK’s rise in popularity occurred as a direct result of Vine shutting down, as some creators moved to the platform and young people were attracted to the lip synching and dancing videos that populated TikTok. So when news of Twitter on the hunt for another video platform to buy spread, many made the same joke about TikTok and that it may share the same fate as the last one the company bought.
Twitter buying TikTok for $30B in 2020 after shutting down Vine in 2016 to save on costs would be a case study for the ages.
— Chetan Puttagunta (@chetanp) August 9, 2020
who was saying that Twitter should buy TikTok and rename it Vine and then maybe clocks will go backwards and wipe away the horrors of the last 5 years? it’s happening babey https://t.co/UnYpoOdEc3
— CMWLSN (@cameronwilson) August 8, 2020
If killing #Vine wasn’t enough, Twitter might be trying to combine with #TikTok https://t.co/ZnpcYRafvp
— SteveWisey (@stevewisey) August 8, 2020
Vine walked so TikTok could fly https://t.co/i1IxPA45SU
— Ryan Mac 🙃 (@RMac18) August 9, 2020
Jack when he owned Vine but didn’t know what to do with it:
Jack when he realized losing Vine was a bad move:
Jack when he realized he might be able to buy TikTok and fix those Vine mistakes: pic.twitter.com/CIrFf7D2Lj
— julia alexander (@loudmouthjulia) August 8, 2020
causing a geopolitical nightmare just to recreate vine https://t.co/nMoC26rxW8
— 😈 (@turtlekiosk) August 9, 2020
Vine’s death by Twitter’s hands made its original owners warn people not to sell their companies. In this case, though, it doesn’t seem like ByteDance has much of a choice. If they do pick Twitter, though, hopefully the company doesn’t have the same fate as Vine.