On Monday President Trump unabashedly told reporters that a “very substantial portion” of a sale price of TikTok to Microsoft MSFT +1.6% would go the Treasury. He called it “key money.” The alternative? Mr. Trump will shut down TikTok in the U.S. on September 15th.
Key money is a dated term used in real estate transactions. It’s money a prospective tenant would pay under the table to a landlord, building manager or even another tenant to secure a lease. Think of a middle school bully demanding another student’s lunch money in exchange for safe passage.