Photo: Battelle Media
Today I landed from a trip to the world of the non-tech obsessed (PA and OH) to find my newsfeed was full of speculation that Google MUST buy Twitter, or be damned to obscurity in a race its already losing to Facebook.Not so fast.
Here’s my simple reasoning for why Google won’t buy Twitter: Twitter won’t sell.
Those who decide whether Twitter goes to Google pretty much come down to a handful of folks: Founders Evan Williams, Jack Dorsey, and Biz Stone, with COO Dick Costolo and Twitter’s investors and other Board members (Fred Wilson, Peter Fenton, and Bijan Sabet). I know most of these guys well enough to say this with confidence: They don’t want to sell, and even more importantly, they don’t need to.
Now, sure, Google can write a ridiculous check, and perhaps, that might sway the key folks (management). But I doubt it. Why? Because nearly all of them have already sold a company to Google – Blogger (Evan and Biz) or Feeedburner (Dick). And, well, they didn’t stick around, did they?
They’ve got a tiger by the tail, the chance to build an independent, lasting legacy that will cement each one of them forever into the immortal tablets of business history. It’s really, really hard to pass that chance up, especially if you’ve already gotten a score or two under your belt. Why not swing for the fences if you’re already batting over 300?
In short, they’re not in it for the money. They’re in it for the immortality. And that’s a much, much bigger deal.
But there’s another reason Google won’t buy Twitter, and it’s this: Google is learning to be patient. Twitter is a big deal, but if you accept it as part of an emerging landscape, there’s no reason you need to own it. Given Twitter’s natural competitive positioning against Facebook, Google can partner with the emerging service in ways that provide both companies advantage against a shared enemy.
And should Twitter prove to be a world class company, prove its revenue model, and go public, things get a bit easier down the road in terms of M&A. The public market will set a price, and Google can negotiate a merger later, when, perhaps, the speculative bloom is off the budding rose, the founders have proven their point, and Twitter is run to satisfy shareholders who crave a buyout price.