Report: Google in talks to buy Twitter?

Discussion in 'Off-topic Zone' started by WoodysGirl, Apr 3, 2009.

  1. WoodysGirl

    WoodysGirl U.N.I.T.Y Staff Member

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    Those who think Twitter is all about what you had for lunch, or is a narcissist's playground for the digital age, either have never used the microblogging service; only jumped on to try it and didn't do the work required to make it useful; or simply haven't been paying attention lately.
    Twitter is about what's happening online right now, and increasingly, it's about using search to discover more about those happenings.

    Which is why it makes perfect sense that TechCrunch is reporting Google is in talks to acquire Twitter:
    Here's a heck of a rumor that we've sourced from two separate people close to the negotiations: Google is in late stage negotiations to acquire Twitter. We don't know the price but can assume its well, well north of the $250 million valuation that they saw in their recent funding. ​

    Twitter turned down an offer to be bought by Facebook just a few months ago for half a billion dollars, although that was based partially on overvalued Facebook stock. Google would be paying in cash and/or publicly valued stock, which is equivalent to cash. So whatever the final acquisition value might be, it can't be compared apples-to-apples with the Facebook deal.​
    Note that TechCrunch uses the word "rumor", which is the site's stock-in-trade. To hammer home the tentative nature of this, a source in a later update to the story says the discussions are in the early, not late, stage, and they may involve Google and Twitter collaborating on a "real time search engine".

    And Kara Swisher at the Wall Street Journal's BoomTown blog throws even more cold water on the report:
    While the "news" that Google was in "late-stage" talks to acquire Twitter, which TechCrunch reported last night, certainly sounds exciting, it isn't accurate in any way, according to a number of sources BoomTown spoke to close to the situation.​

    In fact, Twitter and Google have simply been engaged in "some product-related discussions," according to one source, around real-time search and the search giant better crawling the microblogging service.​

    Said a source close to Twitter: "There was a discussion with [Google executive Marissa Mayer's] group about real-time search and about product stuff. It was a couple weeks ago. It was very preliminary...and that was that."​

    More importantly, said another source about the idea of an imminent acquisition or serious acquisition or even early talks: "Seriously, no negotiations, no deal, nada."​
    If TechCrunch is right, just because a deal like this makes sense doesn't mean it's a good thing. Google's had a decidedly mixed record with its acquisitions of late. For example, customers of Feedburner, the RSS-feed management company Google bought in 2007, have not been happy.

    While Twitter's had its ups and downs - it has largely overcome last year's network stability issues - it has been clearly evolving into a game-changing business. I've said before that Twitter is important. The more people who join it and use it regularly, the more it provides a fascinating, real-time look at what's happening online now - and in many cases, what's happening offline. I would worry that getting sucked into Google's monolithic culture would hamper the company's vision and creativity.

    On the other hand, its founders have seen this movie before. Evan Williams and Biz Stone founded Blogger, which they sold to Google. If anyone knows what protective language needs to go into an acquisition agreement with Google, it's these guys.

    Then, there's the Microsoft factor. Todd Bishop of TechFlash points out that the gang in Redmond won't be pleased if the rumor is true:
    Depending on which of his sources is right (assuming at least one of them is) the talks are either in late or early stages. Whatever the case, it will be fascinating to see if Microsoft tries to cut in.​

    The situation could become reminiscent of Google's acquisition of online advertising company DoubleClick, which forced Microsoft to catch up through its record $6 billion purchase aQuantive. If Google/Twitter happens, however, there doesn't seem to be a natural way for Microsoft to respond -- unless it's able to somehow pull off a Facebook deal.​
    I'm hoping Twitter stays independent for a while longer. I want to see the company's plans come to fruition without the presence of a corporate Goliath looming over them. It certainly has the cash to roll for a while longer, and its value will only increase.

    Twitter's too important right now to become just a shiny bauble in Google's trophy case.

    Technorati Tags: google,twitter,acquisition,microsoft

    Posted by Dwight at April 3, 2009 08:03 AM

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