The re-emergence of rumours that both Google and Facebook are in fresh talks to buy Twitter, two years on from the first wave of acquisition speculation, is not surprising writes Emma Barnett.
Unlike so many hyped start ups, Twitter has continued to grow, in terms of reach, usability and social impact.
And six years on from founding, all three of its founders, Jack Dorsey, Biz Stone and Evan Williams, are still involved with the site’s development in some way, which has meant that the service has stayed focused on its core purpose, and until last year, had even resisted commercialising.
Google wants total access to Twitter’s data so it can make real-time information an integrated part of its offering and not just an add-on. Since 2009 the search giant has been indexing Twitter users' tweets to add a real-time element to its search experience. Eighteen months on from that non-exclusive deal, Google has yet to create its own version of real-time search.
And similarly, Facebook, which was rumoured to have been interested in buying Twitter two years ago, would benefit massively from full access to Twitter’s rich data hose, in its bid to become the social web, within the web.
Imitation is the greatest form of flattery. When Facebook introduced its Twitter-style status update box in 2009, it forced some behavioural change of its users. But it failed to displace Twitter, despite having some 300 million or so more users than the microblogging service. People still turn to Twitter, not Facebook, to update others they barely know, with real time information.
Evan Williams, Twitter’s co-founder and former chief executive, has always been clear about the difference between Twitter and Facebook: Twitter is an information network and Facebook is a social network.
And indeed, the way that people use both, has continued to be different, in spite of Facebook engineers’ best efforts.
If Facebook wants to be the home of all social interactions on the web, it needs to own Twitter’s platform, or at least enjoy a deep partnership.
If Google wants to be able to stay ahead of the search game and keep true to its mantra of organising the world’s information, it needs to own the fastest disseminator of information out there.
But why would Twitter sell up, especially now, while its value, influence and popularity is growing at an alarming pace?
Twitter executives, at the time of writing, were unavailable for comment.
Analysts believe that two types of web are being created at the moment – the information web, led by Google, and the social web, led by Facebook. Twitter, in order to really accelerate its influence, beyond the famous, disenfranchised and tech-savvy, needs to totally permeate and dominate both of those worlds to truly break into the mainstream.
There is the also the financial benefit to think of. According to The Wall Street Journal’s report, the early stage talks with Google and Facebook have valued the loss making Twitter at $10 billion. Despite the current chief executive’s protestations (Dick Costolo) and Williams and Stone’srepeated confirmations, that Twitter is not for sale, that type of potential return, would be difficult for any company’s investors or founders to ignore.
Why do Google and Facebook both want to buy Twitter? - Telegraph