Facebook in recent weeks has approached a handful of small venture capital firms to discuss becoming an investor in their funds, according to people familiar with the matter. The VC strategy, which also includes direct investments in startups, aims to give the social network early, valuable insight into a wider swath of companies.
To run the new investing initiative, Facebook recently appointed Sunita Parasuraman, a nine-year veteran of the company who previously ran the treasury for its embattled Libra cryptocurrency project. Former Kleiner Perkins general partner Eric Feng, now a Facebook employee, is helping approach funds, sources say. The moves come as Facebook fends off antitrust scrutiny of its acquisitions and attempts to find new ways to counter growing competitive threats like TikTok.
Microsoft’s Talks to Buy TikTok Follow Headwinds for Investor Plan
Microsoft is in serious talks to acquire TikTok, the hugely popular Chinese-owned video app, The Information has confirmed, after separate talks for a U.S. investor group to buy the app ran into headwinds on both political and business grounds.
Senior ByteDance executives see Microsoft as more able to afford Tiktok, which could be worth $30 billion or more, and to have a management team that could absorb the app more easily than if it was a standalone company. ByteDance founder Zhang Yiming also has ties to Microsoft, having worked there early in his career. TikTok’s global general counsel Erich Andersen also has a strong Microsoft connection: he joined TikTok in January after 20 years at the software giant.
Microsoft Talks to TikTok: The Information’s Tech Briefing
News that Microsoft is in talks to buy TikTok raises all sorts of fascinating questions. Microsoft in recent years has been much more focused on selling to business customers than individuals; TikTok would take them in the opposite direction. The closest fit within Microsoft’s business would be its Xbox gaming division, although it isn’t that close.
It also would raise Microsoft’s exposure to the advertising business, which isn’t ideal for Microsoft shareholders. One reason why Microsoft has skated through the pandemic largely unaffected is its lack of dependency on ad revenue. One big question is whether antitrust regulators would approve the deal. True, this is a new area for Microsoft. But one of the concerns expressed by politicians in recent days is the influence of big tech. A TikTok acquisition wouldn’t reduce a big tech company’s power.
It would, however, create a formidable rival to Facebook and Google’s YouTube, both of which compete with TikTok. For that reason alone, antitrust regulators may be happy.—Martin Peers
The Information’s 411 — Cyberpunk Barons
It was a big week for tech and politics as the four leaders of the major U.S. tech companies testified in front of the House Antitrust subcommittee. We spoke to Alex Heath and Chris Stern about which CEOs weathered the questions from lawmakers best and where the antitrust investigations go from here. Then Cory speaks to Anissa Gardizy about delivery startup GoPuff and the problems its skyrocketing growth has caused for its neighbors.
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