Twitter is up for sale, says report

After years of losing money and multiple failed attempts to revive its business, the popular micro-blogging app is looking for a buyer.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

The Twitter logo and trading information is displayed just after the opening bell on a screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York City, US, September 23, 2016.

Twitter is in talks with several tech firms to sell itself in what is being viewed as a sorry story for a company which took the world by storm a decade back but never made any money.

It allowed millions of people to share their views and news instantaneously, helped celebrities reach out to fans, and brought scenes of misery from Syrian conflict to the attention of world leaders.

But it has failed to monetise any of it.

A sale of Twitter has been the subject of on-again, off-again rumors for many months as it struggled with stagnant user growth, soft advertising sales and losses running into hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

The company's business woes have come even when it evolved into a global source of news, entertainment and social commentary.

Last month, Even Williams, Twitter's co-founder and chief executive, told Bloomberg TV that merger and acquisition was an option.

Then on Friday, CNBC, citing anonymous sources, reported that Twitter is in talks with companies including Google and Salesforce and may receive a formal bid soon.

The news was quickly picked up by other news outlets and it was reported that another possible suitor – Verizon – might also be in the run for Twitter.

None of the companies mentioned here have openly admitted anything about the possible deal.

The most unexpected development was's interest in acquiring Twitter. Salesforce serves business customers with cloud-based computing services and has virtually no presence in consumer media.

Salesforce's chief digital evangelist, Vala Afshar, tweeted on Friday: "Why @twitter? 1 personal learning network 2 the best realtime, context rich news 3 democratize intelligence 4 great place to promote others."

Since Twitter was listed in 2013, the company has been continuously losing money. Its accumulated losses stand at nearly $2.3 billion.

That is not to say it hasn’t tried to improve its situation. In 2015, Twitter saw a 59 percent jump in its advertising revenue, which come from services like promoted tweets, over the previous year.

A number of initiatives to revive Twitter have also been taken in recent months.

The company introduced live video stream option, struck deals to broadcast American football games and even eased limit on the 140-character tweet.

Twitter has also recently repositioned itself as a news app in hopes of luring global media houses, according to the Financial Times.

But none of that seems to be helping to increase the number of monthly active users, pretty much stagnant at 313 million.

Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, speaks during an interview November 19, 2015. Source: Reuters

Twitter's user base is expected to grow but its share of worldwide social network users will remain virtually unchanged at 12 percent

It has also failed to keep pace with rivals, notably Facebook's Instagram and Snapchat. Both now boast more users than Twitter by most measures even though they are much newer, and advertisers have begun to migrate their ad dollars accordingly.

Twitter's revenue grew rapidly under former Chief Executive Dick Costolo, but stagnant user growth and mounting complaints about lack of innovation in the product led to Costolo's departure last year.

The exodus of senior executives from the company didn’t help either. Fourteen top executives have left since Costolo's resignation, according to Fortune.

Co-founder Jack Dorsey returned to the company as chief executive in 2015 and his plan for reviving Twitter is at best seen as unfinished.

While details about Twitter’s sale remain sketchy, Recode reported that a deal could fetch between $18 billion and $30 billion.

Fortune's Erin Griffith says mismanagement is to be blamed for what has happened with Twitter.

"Twitter, once an underdog that hit some growing pains, will be remembered as a cautionary tale of squandered potential," she wrote in an article.

Ironically, the subject of Twitter's sale was not trending on Twitter. 

TRTWorld and agencies