Former Microsoft CEOs At Odds Over TikTok

Bill Gates Steve Ballmer

For a company as prominent as Microsoft, it’s remarkable that it has only had three CEOs up until now. Interestingly, two of them are at odds over the potential acquisition of social giant TikTok.

Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer have conflicting opinions on this.

And the two gents are more than eager to let their feelings be known.

Gates did so in a Wired piece last week, where he touched on everything from vaccines to the Trump administration, to how the social media landscape is a hard nut to crack, which led to him likening the TikTok deal to a poisoned chalice:

“Who knows what’s going to happen with that deal. But yes, it’s a poison chalice. Being big in the social media business is no simple game, like the encryption issue.”

A cautionary rebuke from the company cofounder, then.

On the other side of town, we have Steve Ballmer, who is practically advocating for the success of this gigantic deal. He sat with CNBC to specifically discuss the intent Microsoft has shown to acquire the business operations of the video sharing social network outside China.

And let’s just say that the man is excited:

“There successes and failures in the consumer business, and I think it’s important to remember you’ve got to keep trying new things in order to build new businesses.”

Fair enough.

Furthermore, Ballmer candidly touched upon the regulatory and security concerns being floated around this deal and Microsoft’s ties with China, letting it known that this is much ado about nothing. In fact, the company collaborating with the government there would only be good for business in the country.

Given their different tenures at Microsoft, it’s not surprising hearing the difference of opinions between Gates and Ballmer. Hard to predict though, which of these former CEOs has a better finger on the pulse.

But both do make valid arguments. And both will have a seat at the table during negotiations if Microsoft moves ahead to acquire TikTok in the coming weeks.

Interesting times ahead.

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