Over the course of a weekend, Twitter went from being bought by Google, to being sought after by Salesforce, pursued by Microsoft and finally desired by Disney. And yet, for the all the headlines and guess work about what any or all of these companies could do with Twitter, it makes no sense for any of them to pay the price tag - anywhere from $13bn (£10bn) to $30bn reportedly - which the company is seeking.

Twitter is a company the media loves to write about, loves to use, and loves to complain about. For most people in the world however, it's just not that important.

Twitter was seen as the next big social network when it took off in the early part of this decade, but thanks to a stagnation in product development growth has slowed to a crawl, with user numbers plateauing around the 300 million mark. This is all in the shadow of Facebook which now has 1.7 billion users and continues to grow while branching out into messaging apps, virtual reality, artificial intelligence and generally saving the world.

Twitter is also struggling to turn its users into a profitable business model and unlike Facebook it has not been able to sell ads around its products. Recently returned CEO Jack Dorsey has been looking to change that with a focus on video, but the company's balance sheet is still not looking too healthy.

This has led to an interesting paradox: Twitter can't continue to operate as it is but there is no reason for any of its reported suitors to pay as much as $30bn for the company.

"It is very difficult to see a viable future as a standalone company," Ben Thompson, a technology analyst who focuses on strategy and business, says, while Jan Dawson, chief analyst at Jackdaw Research says: "There's a fundamental problem with all the potential acquirers, and that's that none of them seem likely to do anything meaningful to solve the product problem."

So why shouldn't Google, Disney, Salesforce or Microsoft buy Twitter?


The most regularly talked-about pursuer of Twitter, Google would on the face of it make a really good fit.

With Wave, Buzz and even Google+, the search giant has shown that it just can't get social right, and Twitter would be a ready-baked solution. Add to that the fact that Google would undoubtedly be able to monetise the huge amounts of data Twitter collects. Plus, it's not like Google doesn't have the money, right?

And yet, despite all these positives, it just doesn't make sense for Google. It doesn't really need a social network. Its business is selling ads and for all the other things the company does, that is what it's best at and that is what it makes the most money doing.

But what about all that juicy data? Well, in a ironic twist of fate, Google already has access to all that data thanks to an agreement the company signed with former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo.

As one of his final acts as CEO, Costolo signed a deal to give Google access to Twitter's firehose of tweets and signed a deal with DoubleClick (Google's ad agency) to promote tweets within Google searches.

That deal has effectively killed any chance that Google would pay the money Twitter is reportedly looking for.


The reasoning behind Disney being interested in buying Twitter seems to boil down to the fact that Jack Dorsey is on the Disney board and is friendly with Bob Iger, the studio's CEO.

But simply beyond the question of what Disney would want Twitter for – some form of video delivery service for its entertainment maybe – this deal makes absolutely no sense when you consider this fact.

Bob Iger, while at Disney, has purchased LucasFilm, Pixar and Marvel for a grand total of $15bn. Does anyone seriously expect him to turn around and spend double that on a social network that can't figure out how to make money?


Not as sexy or exciting as the stories doing the rounds about Google or Disney buying Twitter, but Microsoft is at least vaguely plausible as a suitor. It has just spent $26bn on LinkedIn so is clearly not afraid to splash the cash on what it considers assets that add value.

The problem for Twitter is that, unlike LinkedIn, its data is somewhat tainted. LinkedIn users are real people with real profiles and real personal data. Twitter is filled with egg profile pictures and people who hide behind aliases - making it tough for Microsoft to monetise.

Add to that the huge problem of abuse on Twitter – something Dorsey has singularly failed to address since re-taking the reigns despite multiple promises to do so – and Twitter suddenly becomes much less tantalising for Microsoft.


The least recognisable name in the list. Like Google, Reuters reports that Twitter is actively seeking out US software firm Salesforce as a potential buyer. The reason? Possibly because of potential synergies between the two companies but more likely because Twitter knows Salesforce just lost out in a bidding war to purchase LinkedIn, and therefore they known CEO Marc Benioff is looking to spend some money.

Salesforce buying Twitter would likely see the two companies merge rather than one taking over the other, given their relative size and Salesforce could use the data from Twitter to augment its services to customers.

And yet it makes no sense.

Salesforce is an entirely enterprise-focused company with no consumer experience. (OK it recently bought Quip but that doesn't really count). It would mean Twitter's entire team would need to move along with the company, and given the revolving door of executives we have seen at the company in the last 18 months, that's very unlikely.

So what now for Twitter?

Unfortunately it's stuck between a rock and a hard place. It wants to sell up, but no one wants to buy it at the price it thinks it's worth.

Twitter has three main problems. Its most obvious buyer – Google – already has access to the most valuable part of Twitter, its data. Second, it has an abuse problem which it has been unable to fix and which makes it toxic for a lot of possible suitors.

Finally, Twitter just isn't making any money or growing its user numbers at a rate which would make it a safe bet for anyone to pay over the current market value ($13bn).

So for Dorsey and his board there is no clear path and with little obvious potential, it may simply be left on the shelf.

As Thompson says: "The unfortunate reality is that talking about 'potential' when it comes to a 10-year-old company is much more likely to take the form of 'what could have been' instead of 'what might be'."