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Vanessa Pappas, Interim Head of TikTok, Says App & Walmart Have Common Interest

September 10, 2020

NEW YORK – Greek-Australian Vanessa Pappas is now the interim head of TikTok following the resignation of former CEO Kevin Mayer. She spoke with CNBC on August 28 concerning reports that Walmart is “teaming up with Microsoft in its effort to buy TikTok,” and said that “the social media upstart and retail giant already have a common interest.”

Pappas told CNBC in an interview on Squawk Box, “for us, we’ve been really focused recently on rolling out some e-commerce features. We’ve been providing that for our creator community as another way for them to earn a livelihood. I think there’s a lot of different synergies there.”

TikTok “began testing new social commerce features last year by allowing some users to add links to their profiles and videos,” CNBC reported, adding that “Levi’s was among the first retail brands to use TikTok’s new ‘Shop Now’ feature to direct users to merchandise,” and “the company partnered with influencers to spread their message and reported high engagement and traffic to its website in early tests as of April, according to TechCrunch.”

TikTok is “under pressure to sell to an American company before Sept. 20 when an executive order banning U.S. entities from transactions with the app would go into effect,” CNBC reported, noting that “the Trump administration has raised national security concerns with TikTok due to its Chinese parent company, ByteDance,” and “members of both parties in Congress have shared fears over the potential for ByteDance to be compelled by the Chinese Communist Party to share American user data.”

TikTok has “repeatedly disputed that it would share data with Chinese officials, saying TikTok is not offered in China and data for the app is not stored in the country,” CNBC reported.

With pressure mounting, “Microsoft was the first to emerge as a potential buyer for TikTok,” CNBC reported, adding that “though it has had a mixed record on consumer offerings, Microsoft would be able to offer TikTok a strong cloud infrastructure at a well-resourced company,” while “Oracle, another cloud provider, has also emerged as a potential buyer.”

“Walmart teamed up with Microsoft after its attempt to become majority owner of TikTok through a partnership with SoftBank and Google-parent Alphabet fell apart,” CNBC previously reported.

Pappas said that “she’s not directly involved in deal talks but saw strengths in both Microsoft and Oracle as technology providers,” CNBC reported.

“I think if you look at the various players and the partners that we’re hearing from, I think they’re amazing tech companies,” she told CNBC, “Oracle has its strengths in terms of being a leading data infrastructure company and focused on security, Microsoft as well, great security and privacy platform as well as everything they’re doing with cloud.”

“A deal to buy TikTok’s U.S., Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand operations could be announced as soon as next week,” sources told CNBC, which added that “the deal is likely to be valued at $20 billion to $30 billion, according to the sources.”

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