Google may be in talks to buy internet start-up Twitter, the free micro-blogging service that allows people to send short text messages to a network of friends and followers.
According to the well-connected TechCrunch technology news website the two companies are also considering working together on a Google real time search engine.
Google would pay for Twitter in cash or stock or a combination of the two, TechCrunch is reporting.
“We don’t know the price but can assume its well, well north of the $US250 million valuation that they saw in their recent funding,” he wrote
Responding to the reports Twitter co-founder Biz Stone indicated the company wanted to remain independent.
“My inbox is flooded this morning with requests for a response to the latest internet speculation about where Twitter is headed. It should come as no surprise that Twitter engages in discussions with other companies regularly and on a variety of subjects,” he said in a blog post.
“Our goal is to build a profitable, independent company and we’re just getting started.”
The TechCrunch article is written by the news website’s founder, Michael Arrington, who has a habit of rushing to print with rumours and a mixed record of getting them right.
He was, however, the first to report the rumour that Google would buy video-sharing site YouTube in late 2006.
Industry experts say Arrington has a mixed record but was the first to report the rumour that Google would buy video-sharing site YouTube in late 2006.
Arrington said the talks were “fairly early stage.”
But Kara Swisher, another respected Silicon Valley blogger, writing on her blog Boomtown, dismissed the TechCrunch report.
“In fact, Twitter and Google have simply been engaged in ‘some product-related discussions,’ according to one source, around real-time search and the search giant better crawling the microblogging service,” Swisher said.
San Francisco, California-based Twitter has enjoyed a surge in popularity since its creation three years ago, despite the fact that the company has yet to make any money.
Twitter’s Biz Stone said in March that the company was eager to partner with other companies, including Google, but was not considering a merger or buyout.
Twitter was recently reported to have turned down an offer from Facebook a few months ago.
If the Google deal goes through, it would mark the second time that Twitter’s co-founders, Evan Williams, has sold to Google. In 2003, he offloaded the blogging service Blogger to Google for an undisclosed sum.
Google chief executive Eric Schmidt recently dismissed Twitter as a “poor man’s email” and shot down speculation the company was interested in buying the micro-blogging sensation.
Despite CEO Schmidt’s protestations, Twitter’s potential as a real-time search engine has sparked recurring bouts of speculation that Google may be interested in buying the company.
After catching some flak, Schmidt has also since backed away from his dismissal of Twitter and said “we admire Twitter.”
“We think Twitter did a very good job of exposing a whole new way to communicate,” he said.
But he said Google was not in the market for acquisitions at the moment.
“I’m not sure prices are at their low yet,” Schmidt said. “The situation globally is pretty dire. We are certainly looking. We haven’t seen anything yet that was really exciting.”
Jeff Mann, a vice president at market research firm Gartner, said a Google-Twitter deal makes sense.
“Twitter is attractive,” he said, as a “constantly growing, twitching, seething real-time source of comments, news and opinions.
“The culture and ambitions of Twitter and Google match,” Mann said. “Now is the time for Twitter to sell. It is at the top of its hype range now. Monetising on its own would be a long, hard slog.”
– The Age: April 4 2009 –