What would happen to a Chinese startup that grew into an immense social network platform under the management of Microsoft, an American boring Tech Giant?
The world was stunned by the news when President Donald Trump tweeted about his plan on banning TikTok as it “steals the personal information of our citizens and passes it to the Chinese government ”. Shortly after this tweet, Microsoft started to conduct negotiations with the U.S. government about purchasing the app from its Chinese developers ByteDance. On August 3, Donald Trump announced that he approves Microsoft buying TikTok, so, the fair possibility that TikTok will shortly become a part of Microsoft.
Recent events have shown us how hard Microsoft has missed by purchasing Skype in 2011 for a huge price of $8.5 billons. At the start of the decade, the app was among the leaders in the market but throughout the Covid-19 it couldn’t keep up the competition with Zoom or Discord.
According to Wired, the Tech Giant wanted Skype to compete with messengers like Viber and WhatsApp. After choosing their niche, Microsoft started introducing a vast variety of features like stories, emojis, integrations with YouTube, and many other things that were copied from concurrent apps. The company focused on the development of new features while ignoring issues with video calls. The app has lost the main purpose which is high-quality and reliable video calls. In 2018, Om Malik, a tech reviewer with Bloomberg, posted a crushing review of his user experience with Skype. He called the app the “garbage of the highest quality” and described his experience as “I forced myself to use it, never again”.
While Microsoft struggled with endless redesigns, Zoom has taken over the market by constantly developing and improving its video-conferencing services and adding some needed and useful features like meeting transcripts. Skype for business use will be discontinued by 2021 and substituted by Microsoft Teams which is Slack’s main competitor. History shows us that the company has done some mistakes in the past that are related to purchasing other companies like Nokia and aQuantive.
Things went different in 2016 when Microsoft purchased LinkedIn for a reasonable $26.2 billion. Everything went well despite some rumors about the corporation trying to absorb a prominent business social network and merge it with its other projects. The app was left relatively untouched and without any significant changes or redesigns from its owner. Since then the app continued to grow steadily and build up the user base thus accumulatively profiting $14.3 billion throughout the years (which means that they need another $12 billion in profit to at least break even).
There were some spoilers from LinkedIn about future big integration with Microsoft Office tools and cloud services Microsoft Azure but the things aren’t changing fast there; probably, because Microsoft just doesn’t want to mess up their biggest purchased asset so far. The same story with GitHub, a software-development platform acquired by Microsoft in 2018 for $7.5 billion – a purchased company has saved its internal structure and was provided with creative freedom and independence.
No doubt that Microsoft is capable of changing a lot in the booming teen-oriented social network app like TikTok, especially with its huge user data. The company would be able to connect above 100 million U.S. users with its other platforms to create a unique user experience in gaming, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence products. However, given how aggressive modifications haven’t paid off in the past, any potential new features would likely be slow to arrive.
The corporation already has a case of a successful youth-oriented project. Minecraft, a video game bought by Microsoft in 2014 continues to engage players until this day with 200 million copies sold across all platforms and 126 million monthly active users. However, the closure of the Mixer, the streaming platform that was intended to compete with the monopolist Twitch, shows us that Microsoft is yet to find their path. The company’s success relies almost entirely upon its approach to working with the audience.