Will Twitter finally succeed in being bought out? This is the whole point of the trial to be held in mid-October between the blue bird and the multi-billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk. The latter had agreed to buy the company for 44 billion dollars last April, before suddenly changing his mind. The official reason: bots and fake accounts, which he says represent at least 20% of users, while Twitter has claimed for years that there are less than 5%. Determined not to take out the checkbook, the boss of Tesla and SpaceX also relies on recent revelations from a whistleblower, who accused the social network of lying to regulators about its cybersecurity.
If Elon Musk is the first to give up the takeover after having formally committed to it, other tech giants have almost bought the social network before changing their minds. And for good reason, Twitter has all the trappings of an excellent target: it is a strong global social media with a community of around 300 million users, of which 237 million are monetizable according to the company. Twitter also enjoys massive influence and notoriety. But its leaders are unable to take an additional step in user growth and are struggling to find a sustainable economic model, which logically whets the appetite of other tech giants, who believe they can unleash its potential.
Thus, in 2016, a year after the – rather failed – return of the founder Jack Dorsey at the head of the company, three of them had found themselves in competition to buy Twitter: Alphabet (parent company of Google), Disney and enterprise software giant Salesforce. Everyone finally gave up.
Too expensive for Salesforce
Very aggressive on the mergers/acquisitions front, Marc Benioff, the fiery boss of Salesforce, was clearly the most enthusiastic about the idea of buying Twitter, which he described in the press as “ rough diamond “. The customer relationship management software giant was especially eyeing the personal data held by the social network. Its goal: to know consumers as well as possible in order to adapt its CRM offers and the software it sells to companies. Salesforce also thought it could make Twitter a profitable business by bringing its expertise in BtoB, a growth segment then underdeveloped.
Shortly after missing LinkedIn, acquired by Microsoft, Marc Benioff seemed determined to get his hands on Twitter. But the social network, then valued between 18 and 20 billion dollars and also courted by Google and Disney, was upping the ante and wanted to sell between 25 and 30 billion dollars. Too expensive for the shareholders of Salesforce, who badly received the project of Marc Benioff, of which they criticized the frenzy of acquisitions with 12 companies acquired in the last 12 months, for a total of 4 billion dollars, and insufficient cash to afford such an expensive undertaking.
‘Hate’ and ‘problems’ scared Disney boss
The other option for Twitter then was Disney. Bob Iger, the CEO at the time, already had Disney’s turn to streaming in mind, but the group lacked culture and tech skills. For him, Twitter is then the ideal distribution platform.
“Twitter was a social network but we saw it as something completely different: a global distribution platform for our content, because we wanted to get into the streaming business but we weren’t a tech company. We wanted to use Twitter to deliver news, sports, entertainment to the world. It would have been a phenomenal solution in terms of distribution, “said the former leader in early September 2022 at the Code Conference in the United States.
After having convinced the board of directors of Disney then that of Twitter, the case was almost in the bag. But a few days before signing, Bob Iger doubts. ” As a manager of a major global brand, I was not ready to take on such distraction, deal with so many issues that come with buying a social network, including moderation and toxicity “, explains the former leader, who then sees a contradiction between the Disney business -” produce fun, do good », and all the hate speech and the toxic use that can be made of a social network.
The leader also remembers looking closely at fake accounts. ” We looked very carefully at all Twitter users and then determined with the help of Twitter that a substantial portion – not the majority – were not real. “, he reveals, while specifying that this did not play in his change of mind.
Google just wanted technical tools from Twitter, not from the rest
Finally, the last serious contender was Alphabet, the parent company of Google. World champion in online advertising, Google could have used Twitter to strengthen its positions in native and mobile advertising, and take bigger budgets from its customers by integrating Twitter into their campaigns, which would have in turn improved the monetization of Twitter , which also essentially lives on advertisements.
The market was very enthusiastic about the idea of the deal, but Google didn’t want it in the end, causing Twitter’s stock market value to fall by almost 10% the day the refusal was communicated. Google actually felt that buying all of Twitter wasn’t worth the cost: instead, it bought a “package” that included most of its developer tools, including sa Fabric mobile app development platform, Crashlytics incident reporting platform, Answers mobile app analytics tool, Digits SMS login system, and Fastlane development automation system. The objective for Alphabet: to strengthen Google in the strategic business of the cloud, where it was – and still is – only third behind Amazon and Microsoft.