Microsoft’s plan to spin off part of Its TikTok’s business from Byte Dance will face some technical complications that could test the Trump administration’s patience, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Trump has asked Microsoft to draw up a Plan for the TikTok by September 15th, or he will ban TikTok. It was previously reported that Microsoft wanted to secure a transition period to allow time for TikTok to technically split from Byte Dance after the two sides reached an agreement.
It is understood it could take a year or more to complete a “total break-up” as envisaged by Mr. Trump and U.S. lawmakers.
TikTok is very similar in functionality and technology to Byte Dance’s sound, which is only available in China. In addition, the two share technical resources with other assets of ByteDance.
ByteDance began technical isolation a few months ago, in the face of intense scrutiny from the U.S. government, people familiar with the matter said.
People familiar with the matter said that while the application code that decided the appearance of TikTok was isolated from the sound, the server code was still shared with ByteDance’s products. The server code provides the basic functions of data storage, auditing algorithm, content recommendation, user data management, etc.
To avoid service disruption sourcing TikTok, Microsoft may also rely on ByteDance’s code when evaluating and designing code and move to a new back-office infrastructure to serve users.
If, after the sale of TikTok, the service remains technically and operationally dependent on ByteDance, it would be unacceptable to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.
Another challenge for Microsoft is how to shift TikTok’s secret weapon, the content recommendation algorithm. This algorithm supports TikTok’s “For You” page, which can analyze user behavior to recommend the next video.
People familiar with the matter said that the algorithm used by TikTok was independent of the sound, but that it was harder to deal with the content and user information used by the algorithm. “If there is no data, the algorithm is worthless.” “Separating data for these countries is an important task,” said Jim Dubois, a former Microsoft CIO. “
Microsoft is negotiating to buy TikTok’s U.S., Canadian, New Zealand and Australian operations. TikTok must not only be separated from ByteDance, but must also be separated from TikTok’s operations in other regions. And because there’s so much data involved, there are many technical challenges.
“The biggest problem is splitting data, including content and user data.” Dubois said. He also noted that there may be a need to transfer hard drive data between ByteDance and Microsoft.
TikTok said its user data is stored in the United States and backed up in Singapore, isolated from the company’s other data.
Industry lawyers say mr. Trump’s deadlines are hard to meet, and in similar deals, it usually takes months to identify business needs and intellectual property and asset issues alone.