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Stop It. Google Won't Buy Twitter.

By - September 30, 2010

twitter-bird-google.jpg

(image) Today I landed from a trip to the world of the non-tech obsessed (PA and OH) to find my newsfeed was full of speculation that Google MUST buy Twitter, or be damned to obscurity in a race it’s already losing to Facebook.

Not so fast.

Here’s my simple reasoning for why Google won’t buy Twitter: Twitter won’t sell.

Those who decide whether Twitter goes to Google pretty much come down to a handful of folks: Founders Evan Williams, Jack Dorsey, and Biz Stone, with COO Dick Costolo and Twitter’s investors and other Board members (Fred Wilson, Peter Fenton, and Bijan Sabet). I know most of these guys well enough to say this with confidence: They don’t want to sell, and even more importantly, they don’t need to.

Now, sure, Google can write a ridiculous check, and perhaps, that might sway the key folks (management). But I doubt it. Why? Because nearly all of them have already sold a company to Google – Blogger (Evan and Biz) or Feeedburner (Dick). And, well, they didn’t stick around, did they?

They’ve got a tiger by the tail, the chance to build an independent, lasting legacy that will cement each one of them forever into the immortal tablets of business history. It’s really, really hard to pass that chance up, especially if you’ve already gotten a score or two under your belt. Why not swing for the fences if you’re already batting over 300?

In short, they’re not in it for the money. They’re in it for the immortality. And that’s a much, much bigger deal.

But there’s another reason Google won’t buy Twitter, and it’s this: Google is learning to be patient. Twitter is a big deal, but if you accept it as part of an emerging landscape, there’s no reason you need to own it. Given Twitter’s natural competitive positioning against Facebook, Google can partner with the emerging service in ways that provide both companies advantage against a shared enemy.

And should Twitter prove to be a world class company, prove its revenue model, and go public, things get a bit easier down the road in terms of M&A. The public market will set a price, and Google can negotiate a merger later, when, perhaps, the speculative bloom is off the budding rose, the founders have proven their point, and Twitter is run to satisfy shareholders who crave a buyout price.

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  • http://www.charleshudson.net Charles

    I think you meant “buy” not “But” in your title, right?

  • nitpicker

    Yes but will they buy Twitter?

  • Bob

    Google buying twitter makes no sense to either, google already has access to twitter data. Already twitter can embed youtube, picasa, goo.gl links. So not sure what exactly google gets by buying twitter outright. It is better if twitter is independent. Google is now trying to build social by keeping mobile first, by hiring great talent and buying innovative startups and that is a good thing. Facebook all said and done is a desktop web phenomenon, on mobile the parameters, designs are different. Already foursquare is doing a good job of competing with facebook. Google needs to cooperate with foursquare, twitter, tumblr, linkedin etc to get their data and help them compete with facebook. Facebook is not just the enemy of google, it is the enemy of all social networks out there and has recently become the enemy of Apple as well by imposing ridiculous conditions on Apple ping network. And all the while google is keeping on improving its google buzz.

  • http://www.ecademy.com/node.php?id=137988 Thomas

    It’s a good theory John but I am not convinced.

    Google is not Social and needs to be. Rolling Buzz, Orkut, Gmail and some apps together in Google.me really won’t cut it against Facebook. Even though I wish them well for their implementation.

    Google has to buy Twitter to stay in the race. Their revenues will be $25bn next year while Facebook’s will be $3bn and doubling for their 2012 IPO. The FB IPO could be $50bn in 2012. Google cannot sit and watch a monster be born.

    Even Ev, Jack and Biz can’t resist a $10bn price point and it will be close to that. Twitter is the new Google and they know it.

  • http://colinwalker.me.uk/2010/09/feed-the-bird-tuppence-a-tweet/ Colin Walker

    I posted myself just recently that Google buying Twitter is most unlikely as, after the announcements surrounding social layers, it would appear contradictory to the direction they are taking in the social space.

    With ‘layers’ Google appears to want the social aspect to act as an additional resource to enhance the user experience around the content; it’s the content that matters most whereas – with the likes of Facebook and Twitter – it’s all about the network.

  • http://twitter.com/albertalbs Albert

    Both Twitter and Google must work separately. That is best for us (users). But not the facebook. Facebook needed some policy changes otherwise they will fail in the race.

  • Mark

    Facebook revenues is estimated to be close to 1.7 billion dollars this year and not 3 billion dollars and no twitter is not a social network at all, and even twitter guys said so. Twitter is a content consumption network and most of the time they keep talking/consuming stuff about apple, google stuff on tweets. And google does not do things in panic, that is a microsoft strategy, buy stuff to kill competition. Facebook will not die easily, Facebook has to be beaten by a better network which offers more and that is what google will try to do. Best of luck to google. By the way Google revenues is around 28 billion dollars this year.

  • http://ARMdevices.net Charbax

    I have a theory that Twitter is a waste of time for 98% of the people involved in it. It only benefits famous people who use it mostly for shameless self promotion. In turn those famous people find it so useful to use Twitter for promotion that they can’t stop talking about Twitter and asking everyone to follow them so their self promotion can become even more effective for them.

    98% of Twitter users barely have less than 50 followers and nobody checks in daily to see what others are tweeting so when most people tweat, nobody will read their messages. What’s the point?

    Nah, I’d much rather see Google come with much more meaningful upgrade to Buzz integrated into that hopefully much more meaningful Google Me system.

  • http://janerri.com janetti !

    My mother has asked me on several occasions what Twitter is… and finally admitted she can’t get it and doesn’t care. But she gets Google. She understands search.

    I read a post on Microsoft’s recent close of Windows Live Spaces, that the giant is accepting it doesn’t need to be all things to all people. So goes it for Google.

    “Twitter is a big deal, but if you accept it as part of an emerging landscape, there’s no reason you need to own it.”

    Twitter is already a great platform for, well, whatever it is to whoever is using it. Success is in staying relevant to your audiences… identifying the trends and businesses that evolve from Twitter, and building a solution for that, ahead of the competition.

  • http://twitter.com/Lenny_Neslin Lenny Neslin

    “In short, they’re not in it for the money. They’re in it for the immortality. And that’s a much, much bigger deal.”

    This is the real world. Someone throws $5 billion in your face and it’s not easy to say no.

  • http://www.georgeemsden.co.uk George Emsden (cancerIFA)

    Do you mean Google won’t Buy Twitter in the heading?

  • http://anzman.blogspot.com Charlie Anzman

    John – Just for the record … There is at least one tech obsessed person living in PA. Ugh … me :)

  • http://www.naj-vici.com Vici

    This is a good idea for Google to buy the Twitter. What would be called – Gtwitter? This is same deal as Microsoft wanned to buy Yahoo! Now we can soon expect Google’s Social network Bing!

  • Ric

    Thomas, youre funny, “Google has to buy Twitter to stay in the race.” Twitter is known commodity and its vision and Googles needs do not align. Google has to do something game changing to upset the current paradigm. Twitter is not it. They are a great company that is still evolving on its own terms and just as John said, this isnt their first exit opportunity.

    Google will have to blaze its own social trail and it will have to be significantly different than the current FB standard, Period. I hope they do it because FB is becoming tired and pedantic!

  • http://www.dailyfinancialsolutions.com Rob Ward

    Count me in as one tech obsessed person in Ohio…as are many of my friends. But I won’t deny that the percentage is much smaller.

  • http://bluehorsecreative.com Ryan Pogue

    I don’t think the batting average of 300 is appropriate – more like 140… not any more than that… Ther eis still a lot of misuse out there and people that don’t understand what they are being told to use – so maybe Twitter can help them, directly, build these people’s reputations and guide them a little instead of first-timers getting snowballed by their agencies?

  • alphanaliste

    Actually, John — you’re right about Ev and Co’s motivation (at least, partially, everyone loves money) — to make history and change the world — but you’re entirely wrong about the implications.

    The reason that Twitter will sell and probably much sooner than anyone expects is exactly that.

    The growth of Facebook and poor execution by Twitter has led to a situation where Facebook will soon offer everything Twitter does AND more.

    At its current growth trajectory, Twitter simply doesn’t have the distribution that Facebook does to remain relevant.

    It will sell to Google (or perhaps Apple) in order to achieve the deep mobile distribution it needs to avoid total irrelevance.

  • http://www.twitter.com/angle45media Ben Joven

    That would suck. For advertisers and for people.g

  • dbv

    @ thomas
    Re: “Twitter is the new Google and they know it.”

    Please explain as I don’t get it!

  • http://www.looneymaiden.com Thomas Schmitz

    The long view… So what you’re saying is that Google has adopted 1980′s pre-bubble Japanese business philosophy?

  • Ben

    “They’re in it for the immortality”

    lol seriously wtf….

  • http://www.jon-wright.co.uk Jon Wright

    The two should remain separate but everybody has a price i guess.

    Like you’ve already mentioned here, if Google could buy it, they’d bury it.

    I like twitter for its simplicity.

  • brian gillespie

    Twitter and Facebook aren’t really enemies, they are two different answers to two different questions. But they’re both a potential threats to Google’s take on the advertising business. So if there is a partnership, Google needs Twitter more than Twitter needs Google.

  • http://blog.teltub.com Farid

    Pros:

    *Acquire Twitter’s users
    *Create buzz in the news
    *Add Twitter’s revenue to their already astronomical revenue of ~$28 B (ONLY IF they can figure out the revenue model)
    *Acquire some talented people who are working in Twitter (I am not talking about the founders or the C-level people who will soon leave after any potential acquisition)
    *Integrating with other Google services like Google Voice

    Cons:
    *Paying a lot of money :)
    *Dealing with questions about the failure of Buzz because if they do acquire Twitter, they technically admit that their own Twitter-like service has failed (re: Google Video vs Youtube)
    *Drafting a sustainable revenue model for Twitter which seems to be REALLY hard

    Although the Pros are more in number but I think Cons are stronger. Also, there is the question of “Does the Google brand stretch that much to cover Twitter?”. The answer may seem to be yes as Google already purchased not-so-related companies and made it work. However, some of Google’s (so far) not-so-successful attempt to create something in this space, i.e. Buzz, may make them to think twice before making this decision at this point in time.

    It might be more feasible to make an offer once Twitter folks finalized their revenue model. Granted, Google has to pay more at that point but at least they won’t have to justify their acquisition to the share holders.

    All that being said, Google has shown that they do purchase ‘cool companies’ even with no established business model (e.g. Youtube). This should not come as a surprise if they just make an offer even when it doesn’t make that much of a business sense.

  • http://www.homethinking.com Niki

    I think Twitter is too big for Google to acquire. I don’t mean that Google doesn’t have the cash or size to buy Twitter just that the days of Google’s $1bn+ acquisitions are over. There is too much regulatory nervousness (seriously Admob nearly didn’t make it?). ITA is another great example.

    Google’s power reached too much of large magnitude that everything they do will be put under a Government microscope and so growth from acquisitions is now unrealistic (would they be able to acquire Youtube today?)

  • http://www.edgeofdavid.com Edge of David

    I don’t think Google will buy Twitter either, but it’s tempting. With Buzz a failure, the big G lacks the real time update quality the make Twitter so valuable. So they can integrate Twitter into search results like they do, but that is probably plan B.

  • https://twitter.com/TektonikShift TektonikShift

    The Google-must-buy-Twitter speculation was started as a link-bait headline &story by Henry Blodget at Business Insider.

    Very typical of Business Insider.
    Blodget’s post was all opinion and had no substance. Kinda like what Blodget used to do year ago on Wall Street when he was pumping stocks.

    -Tek
    https://twitter.com/TektonikShift

  • http://www.danexpol.pl Dofinansowania

    I think you should stay write criminal :) that theory is very intresting, and in past people speaking loud about twitter and Google. Hmm real i dont` think so, but who know…

  • http://www.erabatt.se rabattkod

    Only the future will tell, the price tag would be pretty high and how to bring in some revenue from twitter has to be solved. Love your posts!

  • Floris

    Why would Google want to buy Twitter? Twitter is running a race they are almost certainly going to lose. Twitter is essentially Facebook’s status update. Facebook could do all the things Twitter can and more. Twitter has no added value when (that’s right, not ‘if’) Facebook starts upgrading their status updates with the same functions.
    Then it’s bye bye Twitter. Nothing they can do about it, just a matter of time.

  • http://www.infogrok.com Rob

    Yahoo would be interesting to watch here. They need to do something quickly to remain relevant.

  • http://www.izdelava-web-strani.com/ Strani

    I always wondered how Twitter funds itself? There are no ads, no banners, so how would you estimate the value of the site?

  • http://www.hahafunnyshit.com Funny Shit

    I would have to agree with Floris on this one. Facebook is everything twitter is but much more. Google probably wouldn’t buy twitter..

  • http://www.edgeofdavid.com Edge of David

    @Strani true, the monetezation is not clear. I think they will end up doing something like the YouTube partnership program. With such a massive audience, Twitter is inherently valuable

  • http://www.bigjobsboard.com/ Steve Jobs

    Twitter has no use to Google. Let’s think about it. If Google bought Twitter what will happen next? They already have the access in Twitter right now so they don’t have to buy it. But I think Google is not after what will Twitter do for them maybe they just want Twitter to be running forever in the internet. They don’t want to lose it since it helps to spread gossips and celebrity issues. Lol.

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  • http://www.bigjobsboard.com/ Steve Jobs

    I don’t think Google needs Twitter at this point. It is better to have a buddy against a common enemy rather than going alone in battle. Besides, Twitter is busy nowadays improving their system and launching new features to monetize their traffic.

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