Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) isn’t just a social media network. Over the course of the last decade, the microblog site has emerged to become an integral part of global society in its own rite. Twitter is a place where anyone can find fame, elections are fought and won and news travels the globe at break-neck speed. Bearing that in mind, it’s little wonder everybody seems to want a piece of it.
Although Twitter has permanently embedded itself deep within popular culture — and despite the company’s market capitalization of over $13 billion, its financials haven’t been great. The site doesn’t make nearly as much money as investors would like, and so rumors of a big sell-off have been circulating all over the place in recent weeks.
In September, Twitter even went so far as to hire Goldman Sachs and Allen & Co to solicit potential buyers. And according to various reports, some of technology’s biggest names are preparing to bid for the social media network even as we speak.
Until the bids start coming in, it’s difficult to say exactly who will snag the prize — but to give you a taste of the action, here are a few of the names that have been tipped to join the fray.
Frontrunners in the Twitter Acquisition Race
Last week, Bloomberg reported that Google’s parent company, Alphabet, had already hired a financial adviser to consider a potential bid for Twitter. And although the company has yet to reveal a bid, analysts reckon Google is a natural home for Twitter. The two companies have worked together in the past on advertising and mobile platforms, and Twitter also recently locked down a deal to integrate all of its content in Google search results.
It’s also worth pointing out that Google’s own attempt at social networking, Google Plus, turned out to be a rare flop. That has left the web giant with no way to compete with Facebook’s social ad revenues. Furthermore, it goes without saying Alphabet has got the money to take on a loss-leading asset like Twitter.
According to sources close to the unfolding competition, Twitter’s decision to solicit bids for the company stemmed exclusively from a huge level of interest over at Salesforce. The American cloud company has been hungrily seeking out major acquisitions in recent months. This summer, Salesforce tried its hardest to secure the acquisition of social media network LinkedIn — but ultimately lost out after Microsoft swooped in with a $26.2 billion cash offer for the site.
Salesforce still appears bitter over the deal, and is reportedly still urging government officials to block Microsoft’s takeover on the grounds it would be anti-competitive. But as that episode continues to unfold, Salesforce executive Vala Afshar has been tweeting an awful lot in a personal capacity about why Twitter would make a smart purchase.
Microsoft may not be content with just one major social media network. According to CNBC, Microsoft is also considering a bid for Twitter — and the company has definitely proven to have a big appetite for huge purchases like Twitter. The tech giant paid a whopping $8.5 billion for Skype in 2011, $1.2 billion for business networking site Yammer in 2012 and $9.4 billion for Nokia’s handset business in 2014.
A bid for Twitter would give Microsoft a far more diverse slice of social cyberspace — although it’s worth noting that Microsoft also has a so-so history of writing down some acquisitions not too long after paying up. Earlier this year, the company announced plans to cut almost 2,000 jobs as a result of its struggling Nokia business.
Last month, TechCrunch reported that telecommunications giant Verizon may also be keen to put in a bid for Twitter. Not log after its jaw-dropping $4.8 billion acquisition of Yahoo — and just over a year after dropping another $4.4 billion on Internet pioneer AOL — Verizon is no stranger to major acquisitions. Analysts also argue Verizon’s shrewd, top-down management style would be a good fit for Twitter in helping it start to generate more income.
According reporters at Bloomberg, Google isn’t the only company that’s hired an adviser to consider a bid. Walt Disney is also said to have hired consultants to weigh in on a potential purchase — and as one of the globe’s biggest media companies, Disney has certainly got plenty of M&A experience.
CEO Bob Iger has a reputation for making big gambles that pay off, including the $7.4 billion acquisition of Pixar and the $4 billion purchase of the Star Wars franchise. And with Disney’s TV business losing loads of viewers thanks to competition from online streaming, Twitter could be the perfect place with which to regain control over fickle consumers.
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