In the end, it seems, you either buy or get bought. Twitter, which has long struggled to turn a profit since going public, has recently been the subject of a lot of speculation about the company being in the latter camp. The usual suspects — Verizon, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft, among others — have all been floated as potential buyers for Twitter, but we’re now seeing one name we didn’t expect to see. Apparently, Disney has also expressed interest in Twitter. That’s going to change Snow White quite a bit.
Bloomberg is reporting that Disney has gotten some number crunchers together to see if a bid to purchase Twitter makes sense. They’re not alone, either, with Salesforce.com also seriously looking into joining the fray. It’s the kind of frenzy that preceded the Yahoo buyout, and with Twitter’s stock getting a sizable bounce this week, it’s hard not to think people in the know are preparing for something big to happen soon.
So, does it makes sense? Who but Disney knows, but from a business standpoint, it’s going to be tough sledding. Worse than Twitter’s revenue or profit numbers is its user base, which has seen minimal growth over the past couple of years. It’s hard to imagine that a buyout would create enthusiasm for Twitter where there wasn’t any before, meaning that any buyout would likely be looking to cash in on the existing user base. Then again, Twitter’s power users look to it as either a news wire or a place to bother others for sport (for whatever reason drives them to do so) — they’re not looking to see their Twitter freedoms curtailed.
The prospect of Disney buying out Twitter is somewhat unsettling, but then again, which of these mega-mergers hasn’t been? The issue here is that Disney would almost certainly look to sanitize Twitter, for the sake of its brand if nothing else. On the one hand, enhanced moderation that many have been calling for would finally be put into action. On the other hand, we could see Twitter’s greatest strength — distributing sometimes uncomfortable news stories or live events — diminished as a result, similar to how Facebook has been operating.
It’s worrisome, because for better or worse (and a strong case could be made for worse), Twitter and Facebook have become primary sources of news for billions. Twitter, to the credit of its executives, seems to have some awareness of the gravity of that responsibility, and has acted accordingly, if not always perfectly. A buyer would be unlikely to do so — a return is expected on investment, and that’s why so many Twitter investors are keen on a buyout in the first place.
But, on the other hand, we could see a Disney GIF renaissance, so I guess the scales balance.