Walmart is emerging as an unlikely bidder for TikTok.
The big-box chain has partnered with Microsoft, the frontrunner in talks to snap up the Chinese-owned video app, to broaden its advertising and expand its third-party marketplace. According to multiple reports, an acquisition of the company’s operations in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand could be worth up to $50 billion.
“The way TikTok has integrated e-commerce and advertising capabilities in other markets is a clear benefit to creators and users in those markets,” a Walmart spokesperson said in a statement to FN. “We believe a potential relationship with TikTok U.S. in partnership with Microsoft could add this key functionality and provide an important way for us to reach and serve omnichannel customers as well as grow our third-party marketplace and advertising businesses.”
The retailer added, “We are confident that a Walmart and Microsoft partnership would meet both the expectations of U.S. TikTok users while satisfying the concerns of U.S. government regulators.”
Computer software maker Oracle, backed by investment firms Sequoia Capital and General Atlantic, is also weighing a potential bid for TikTok, which has not yet selected a buyer but is expected to announce a deal in the coming days.
The partnership wouldn’t be the first for Walmart and Microsoft: Two years ago, the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer and the multinational tech empire joined forces in a five-year agreement that appeared to be a jab at Amazon. (Walmart is widely regarded as Amazon’s biggest retail rival, while Microsoft is the e-commerce behemoth’s largest competitor in the cloud services space.) Through their deal, Walmart was provided access to Microsoft’s Azure and 365 cloud services to launch projects focused on machine learning, artificial intelligence and data platforms.
Last month, reports surfaced that Walmart was planning to launch a membership program called Walmart+ — its answer to Amazon Prime. The subscription-based service will reportedly cost $98 each year and include unlimited same-day grocery deliveries, reserved delivery slots and two-hour shipping. It is also rumored to include discounts on fuel at Walmart gas stations, early access to some product deals, as well as a scan-and-go service that would allow shoppers to check out at stores without having to wait in line.