With speculation mounting that Twitter will soon have a new corporate owner, the 10-year-old social networking service – which has long struggled to define its core purpose – may end up heading in one of several distinctly different directions depending on who ends up paying for it.
Companies including Salesforce.com, Walt Disney and Alphabet’s Google have shown interest in Twitter, which is working with investment banks to evaluate its options, according to people familiar with the matter.
With Salesforce.com, Twitter might turn its focus to customer service communications and mining its database of tweets for business intelligence.
Google would likely be most interested in the social and news dimensions of Twitter. Disney, by contrast, might see it as a way to expand the reach of its sports and entertainment programming. It is not clear how quickly Twitter might approach a sale, but it is moving to formalize the process, sources have said. A deal is by no means assured in light of the company’s uncertain financial prospects and steep price tag – its market value is more than $16 billion after talk of a sale drove the stock up over the past few days. Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey, speaking at a conference in Washington on Monday, declined to comment on possible sale talks.
Salesforce.com, run by CEO Marc Benioff, is focused on cloud-based sales and marketing software; unlike Twitter, its main product is aimed at businesses users, not consumers.
Under Salesforce.com, Twitter could become a corporate tool used to power sentiment analysis and nurture customer relationships.
Salesforce.com already uses the Twitter “firehose” for its new artificial intelligence platform, Einstein.
“It would give them the social graph and a better idea of how social media relates to its customers,” said Ryan Holmes, chief executive of Hootsuite, a private technology firm that helps brands and consumers manage their social media accounts.
Holmes also said that if Salesforce.com owned all of Twitter’s data, it could have better insights into what sort of conversations companies such as airlines or telecom firms might be having with their customers and thereby gain more understanding of their business challenges.
But many Twitter users – especially newer ones – are not active tweeters, which over time could limit the value of the data Twitter can provide.
Salesforce.com could also likely gain much of the benefit of Twitter’s data from licensing its trove of tweets as opposed to buying the whole company.
Salesforce.com investors are already spooked by the speculation it could acquire Twitter: its shares are down 6 percent since news of the company’s interest flared up last week. Twitter would fit easily with Google’s… read full story