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Will TikTok be back in India, riding on Microsoft's shoulders?

(Image credit: Microsoft-TikTok)

TikTok was banned amidst much brouhaha in India last June. But in less than two months, the odds on it returning shortened as Microsoft Corp is in talks to buy all of TikTok’s global business.

Originally, it was said that Microsoft was contemplating to take over TikTok in Australia, New Zealand and, of course, in North America.

According to a report in the Financial Times, Microsoft is exploring whether it can add regions including India and Europe to the deal.

However, neither Microsoft nor ByteDance which owns TikTok has come on record to confirm the FT report.

The deal is far from sealed as ByteDance values all of TikTok at more than $50 billion, which Microsoft feels to be very steep.

TikTok faces a September 15 deadline to either complete a sale of its US operations to Microsoft or face a ban in the United States.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump signed a pair of executive orders prohibiting US residents from doing business with the Chinese-owned TikTok and WeChat apps beginning 45 days from now, citing the national security risk of leaving Americans’ personal data exposed.

India vital for TikTok

Amidst all the drama surrounding TikTok in the US, there is considerable speculation that it might be more keen to come back in India, where it had a huge presence.

India was the biggest driver of TikTok installs with 611 million ‘lifetime’ downloads as on April last week this year or a staggering 30.3 per cent of its more than 2 billion downloads globally — far higher than its home country China.

And many of TikTok content providers had become minor celebrities in their own right, and many of them have been lured by TikTok's competitors who have mushroomed in huge numbers in the aftermath of the Chinese app's ban. Apps like Reposo and Chingari have stepped into the breach and have made the most out of TikTok's absence.

In America, too, TikTok had to fend off efforts from other similar apps from poaching its talents.

Also, it remains to be seen whether the Indian government will lift the ban on TikTok if it is to be owned by Microsoft.

Microsoft also in talks to invest in TikTok Indian clone

As all these developments unfold there is another news report which makes the scenario all the more intriguing. 

According to the newspaper Mint, Microsoft is in talks to invest in ShareChat, which is more or less an Indian clone of TikTok.

Microsoft Corp is looking to invest around $100 million in the Indian content sharing platform, according to the report.

ShareChat launched its Moj video-sharing service just a day after the Indian government banned TikTok. Helo, another app owned by Bytedance, competes with ShareChat.

ShareChat had previously got $100 million from Twitter, which pegged the valuation of the startup at $650 million.