After months of speculation, Twitter has finally put itself on the market for sale. Bidding is now open. But there’s one problem: no one wants Twitter.
Twitter was one of the most prominent social networks. It continues to be a highly significant social network even in the face of tough competition posed by the likes of Instagram. So how come financiers are not pushing each other over to own Twitter?
Potential Suitors Fleeing
Twitter has struggled for several quarters with slumping stocks. The company has been unable to attract new users to expand its user base. While Twitter does have a large user base, compared to competitors like Facebook, this user base is not growing as it should.
The beleaguered social network tried to add new users by pushing hard for live video streaming. Yet, bidders have lost interest in an acquisition.
The Twitter auction attracted interest from the likes of Salesforce.com, Walt Disney Co. and Google, under Alphabet Inc. According to recent news reports, none of these interested parties want to proceed along to a serious bid.
Last week, Twitter even had to cancel a board meeting regarding a sale.
Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff reportedly told media that he is not interested in buying “a company that shall not be named,” which everyone interprets as a reference to Twitter. His remarks were met by applause from Salesforce investors. Salesforce stocks actually went up by 4 percent following Benioff’s remarks.
The selling of Twitter has not been met with much enthusiasm from the inside either. Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey, who was hired to turn the bad stocks around, is vehemently opposed to a sale. On the other hand, co-founder of the company, Ev Williams, supports the sale.
Shares Continue to Slide
Twitter’s already disappointing shares fell even further by 13 percent earlier this week, following news reports of fleeing bidders. The company’s overall stock fell by 25% this year alone.
Despite lack of enthusiasm from other tech companies, Twitter had hoped that a non-tech company, like Walt Disney, might buy it out. However, Disney was warned against a merger with Twitter by Citi analysts, who pointed to AOL (tech) and Time Warner (traditional media) tie up as an example of the disaster that could happen.
Twitter is considering other solutions in lieu of a sale, like selling off or diversifying only some assets that are not part of the company’s core business.
Twitter is also relying heavily on its live video strategy to attract and retain users. The company has been rigorously striking deals with agencies like the National Football League to air live video on the social network. Twitter is hoping that people without accounts, or those who are not interested in tweeting, might open new Twitter accounts to do things that do interest them, like watch a football game live on Thursday night. Twitter can profit by selling live video ads.
Twitter’s live video strategy has not taken off as expected. Rather, the company’s core user base continues to be journalists, politicians and celebrities, who are increasingly becoming concerned about online harassment.
Why No One Wants Twitter
A Twitter acquisition could be lucrative, but the cons can easily cancel out the perks.
Investors are concerned about lack of growth, but more are put off by Twitter’s lack of brand definition. The user experience and the “meaning” of tweeting remains “rather undefined at this point,” according to a marketing professor from York University.
On top of these concerns, there’s another menace: online harassment and bullying. Twitter has been the center of a number of online harassment controversies in recent times. Most notably, actress Leslie Jones, who is African American, was viciously targeted by a misogynistic and racist campaign on Twitter earlier this year. Though Twitter does not endorse hateful messages posted on the platform, it does not penalize those who do either.
In addition to harassment among users, no one really wants to deal with the company’s employees, who are owed hefty amounts in stock.
Considering all these problems, it is unlikely that Twitter will find a buyer soon. The social network’s future, at the moment, remains quite unclear.