In addition to recreating TikTok’s algorithms, an American acquirer would additionally must work shortly to protect TikTok’s different beneficial asset: its creator tradition. As my colleague Taylor Lorenz has written, TikTok is residence to a giant, vibrant neighborhood of inventive expertise, a few of whom make a full-time residing from the app. Those persons are drawn to TikTok partly as a result of the platform offers them a solution to attain a mass viewers. But they’re additionally drawn to it as a result of TikTok has cultivated an aura of cool via promoting, putting partnerships with music festivals and different in style occasions, and internet hosting unique events for TikTok creators at business occasions like VidCon.
Already, Facebook is reportedly attempting to poach in style TikTok creators for Instagram Reels, its new TikTok clone, by dangling six-figure offers in entrance of them. And if TikTok is acquired by Microsoft — a firm not traditionally recognized for its youth attraction — creators may sense that it’s time to maneuver on.
TikTok may attempt to decrease the danger for an acquirer by putting multiyear unique offers with its hottest American creators, the way in which that platforms like YouTube and Twitch have carried out. It may additionally speed up its plans to let in style customers earn cash from the platform. But with out a agency grip on its A-list expertise, TikTok’s acquirer received’t be assured that the platform isn’t shedding its edge.
Hank Green, a YouTube star and chief govt of the schooling firm Complexly, who has greater than 600,000 followers on TikTok, mentioned that a TikTok acquisition may make creators extra skeptical of the corporate’s motives.
“One of the things about TikTok is they’ve been able to make lots of changes really fast, and people are open and receptive to that,” Mr. Green mentioned. “If you see that change as coming from outside the ecosystem, that can feel like a foreign change.”
Many of the individuals I spoke to agreed that even with the potential pitfalls and unresolved questions, the chance to purchase TikTok is a once-in-a-decade deal for the fitting acquirer. Popular, rising social networks are exceedingly uncommon, and TikTok has already made itself a fixture of American tradition in a approach that few different apps ever have.
“TikTok is compelling, not just because of its large and growing user base, but also because of its platform potential to expand into e-commerce and livestreaming,” mentioned Connie Chan, a companion on the enterprise capital agency Andreessen Horowitz. “Video is a fantastic way to sell things and short videos are perfect for product discovery.”