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Is TikTok a bargain for Microsoft?

This statement depends on what Microsoft buys from TikTok.
TikTok probably won’t avoid the fate of selling itself.

The app appears to have reached the end of the adventure when President Donald Trump asked the owner, Chinese tech giant ByteDance to sell TikTok to a US company or be banned from operating there.

On August 6, Mr Trump again signed a decree setting a deadline for TikTok to “sell himself” on September 20. After that period of time, all US businesses and individuals will be banned from trading with TikTok, WeChat.

However, according to writer Kevin Roose in the New York Times, the definition of “acquiring TikTok” is still quite vague at this time. Unlike buying a restaurant or bookstore, acquiring a technology product like TikTok is much more complicated.

The video recommendation algorithm is possibly TikTok’s most valuable asset. Photo: Grow.

TikTok always shows itself as an independent entity from the American CEO and the American engineering team. However, the most important strategic and operational decisions of TikTok are still made by ByteDance’s leadership team in China.

Besides, according to The Information, this application is very difficult to separate from China, but more specifically, the core technologies developed in China.

TikTok, like other ByteDance apps, operates on a shared “central platform” with a total of more than 20 apps. Separating TikTok’s operations from the platform will be complex.

That is not to mention the video selection algorithm to display on the user’s smartphone, which is called “for you page” or FYP by TikTok. The New York Times said this could be TikTok’s most valuable asset.

Eugene Wei, a longtime leader in the tech world, says FYP is like the Harry Potter house of choice, an analytical engine for making appropriate choices based on user behaviour.

TikTok’s “secret recipe” is located in China’s parent company ByteDance. Photo: Shutterstock.

Each touch, swipe, and video on TikTok is a data point from the user. TikTok collects billions of those data points, which they put into its giant machine learning to train artificial intelligence to predict the next most relevant video, which can keep users the longest. This is the “esoteric recipe” that helps keep viewers on TikTok.

This formula can be cultural, for example using videos from China or India to attract American viewers. It can be based on catchy music or catchy dance. It is also possible to rely on attractive effects available only on TikTok. Even the current TikTok can pull data from Douyin, its domestic version, to make recommendations to international users.

ByteDance has always called itself an AI company. To develop artificial intelligence, these companies are forced to collect as much data as possible. It would be difficult for ByteDance to sell its algorithm along with TikTok to a new investor. Even if they sell the algorithm, new owners will have to “start over,” says Karl Higley, an engineer who was involved in building the proposal system on Spotify.

TikTok’s algorithm is also considered a major asset of this application. Photo: Later.

“To be able to personalize an app for existing customers, they’ll need historical data from US users, otherwise they’ll have to completely start over. This could be a bad experience. harm to users, ” Mr Higley shared with the New York Times.

Building data collection algorithms to come up with the best product is not a big deal for many US companies. The world’s largest social network Facebook and competitors like Snapchat and Twitter all have such algorithms.

If the new owner of TikTok, be it Microsoft or Twitter, can not immediately come up with a solution to attract users, TikTok will probably fail against a series of competitors like Instagram. Reels by Facebook.

In addition to the algorithm, TikTok’s new owners will also have to hold onto another equally important asset: young creators.

Microsoft, which is known as a not so young and dynamic company, may find it difficult to integrate TikTok’s culture. That’s not to mention the creators who were stalked by Instagram Reels or YouTube clones, Twitch by contracts.

(The New York Times)

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