Eric Schmidt, Ex-Google CEO, Explored TikTok Purchase Before Federal Law Mandated Sale


Eric Schmidt, the former chief executive officer of Google, acknowledged exploring the possibility of acquiring TikTok but has since abandoned the idea amidst a new federal law mandating the sale of the popular video-sharing app by its Chinese owners, ByteDance Ltd., within a year or face a US ban.

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Schmidt, who led Alphabet Inc.’s Google for over a decade, revealed in an interview with Bloomberg TV that he once considered purchasing TikTok but clarified that it’s no longer under consideration. “I’m not currently looking at that,” he stated. “I looked at it for a while.”

Expressing his personal opinion, Schmidt advocated for regulatory measures for TikTok in the US rather than resorting to a ban or legal actions. He likened the app more to television than social media and proposed regulatory frameworks similar to the “equal time rule” for television.

ByteDance’s reluctance to sell the algorithmic core of TikTok, which determines users’ feeds, presents a significant hurdle for potential buyers. Recreating this algorithm would be both challenging and costly, considering its role in propelling TikTok to over 170 million monthly US users.

Schmidt, currently the 47th-richest person globally with a net worth of $32.2 billion, emphasized the US’s lead over China in artificial intelligence (AI) development. He highlighted the importance of maintaining this edge despite challenges such as semiconductor shortages.

In Europe, Schmidt expressed concerns regarding regulatory frameworks hindering innovation, citing new European Union regulations on AI. He also noted China’s potential to excel in AI given access to necessary hardware despite current semiconductor shortages.

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