Covering tech is wonderful. Often we get a breaking story that nobody saw coming. Last year, rumor after rumor suggested Twitter was going to be acquired, with one of the likely suitors being Google. Then, one by one, all the deals apparently fell through, and 2016 ended with Twitter grudgingly trudging on. Now, not even three weeks into 2017, Google is acquiring Twitter’s mobile developer platform Fabric.
Google gets to boost its developer offerings with another cheap acquisition, while Twitter presumably gets a slight revenue bump and looks leaner for another auction attempt. How did we get here?
To be frank, we may never know. Twitter being up for sale last year is still technically rumor and speculation, though multiple sources reported the social network was desperately considering all its options.
It’s almost as if during the courting process, something about Twitter seriously turned Google off (and supposedly everyone else). But Google got to peek at Twitter’s books. While the numbers didn’t quite add up for all of Twitter, they did for a part of it.
But this story is likely far from over. Twitter has failed time and time again to please users, developers, and stockholders. Meanwhile, the calls for Google to buy Twitter have been steadily grown louder. And there’s plenty of good reason for it.
Google has included tweets in its search results since May 2015. This is one of those partnerships that benefits everyone.
The two are perfect complements. Twitter still hasn’t figured out how to be a successful business. Google still hasn’t figured out how to be a successful social network.
Google is constantly under pressure to get you information as quickly as possible, and while Twitter has a growth problem, the social network’s immediacy means its role in breaking news can’t be matched. There are only two groups that could monetize Twitter very effectively: Google’s ad team, and Facebook.
Google may have considered the Twitter purchase simply so none of its major rivals get the social network. Facebook already owns Instagram, and even Microsoft has LinkedIn. Google has Google+.
Alternatively, instead of Google buying Twitter, its parent firm Alphabet could do it. Even though Google encompasses all of Alphabet’s internet properties, that doesn’t mean it has to stay that way.
Alphabet consists of various subsidiaries, including Calico, CapitalG, DeepMind, GV, Google, Google Fiber, Nest Labs, Jigsaw, Sidewalk Labs, Verily, Waymo, and X.
Many of these don’t have much business sense. Twitter would fit right in.
If Twitter were to be given access to Alphabet’s deep pockets for a few years, the social network just might figure out how to grow again. It’s a long shot, but just imagine what the company could do if it didn’t have to constantly worry about pleasing investors and could instead focus on users (developers are a lost cause at this point).
And anyway, Alphabet is missing a T.
ProBeat is a column in which Emil Protalinski rants about whatever crosses him that week. His main concern is having enough content to maintain a regular schedule. Then again, a deranged puppet just became president of the United States.