TikTok’s Interim CEO Bullish On Possible Walmart Deal

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Some market watchers say the proposed marriage of Walmart Inc. with TikTok would make an odd couple. 

But the interim CEO of the popular video-sharing app said the two companies have lots in common, and she likes the pairing. 

“I think there’s a lot of different synergies there,” Vanessa Pappas told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Friday (Aug. 28). “For us, we’ve been really focused recently on rolling out some eCommerce features. We’ve been providing that for our creator community as another way for them to earn a livelihood.”

On Thursday (Aug. 27), Walmart confirmed it is teaming up with Microsoft Corp. to buy TikTok’s U.S. headquarters in Culver City, California, as well as the company’s operations in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The deal could be worth as much as $30 billion.

While Pappas told the network she is not part of the deal talks, she sees strengths in Microsoft and Oracle, another big-name bidder for the app.

“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 said. “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 [the] cloud.” 

Pappas took over from former CEO Kevin Mayer, who held the job for three months. He quit this week, telling staff that the political atmosphere has shifted in the last month and that the expected sale of TikTok will likely change the operation. Before joining TikTok, Mayer served as a senior Walt Disney Co. executive. 

In its public statement on Thursday (Aug. 27), Walmart said it is “confident that a Walmart and Microsoft partnership would meet both the expectations of U.S. TikTok users while satisfying the concerns of U.S. government regulators.”

ByteDance Ltd., TikTok’s parent company, is facing a Sept. 20 deadline to sell the company to a U.S. firm. President Donald Trump issued an executive order on Aug. 6, banning U.S. companies from doing business with ByteDance.

The Trump administration contends that the app could be dangerous to national security if its user data is provided to the Chinese government. TikTok has repeatedly disputed the allegation that it would share data with Chinese officials.

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