If Google isn’t in talks to buy Twitter, it should be.
Specifically, it should offer the company $1 billion, cash.
Google needs a huge new growth engine and Twitter might just fit the bill. The current search product cycle is coming to an end. Google needs an “Office” to go with its “Windows.” It hasn’t found one yet. Twitter–and real-time search–could end up being a monster. If Google waits around to see whether it really WILL be a monster, Twitter will be a hell of a lot more expensive. Remember when Yahoo’s Terry Semel whiffed on buying Google?
Twitter is a hell of a lot more relevant to Google’s business than other big Google ideas, such as YouTube or Larry Page’s plan to have Google solve the world’s energy crisis (see his crazy talk of two years ago). Twitter is also about communications, which is the one part of the content-communications-and-commerce Internet tripod that Google is still weak in.
$1 billion is couch change for Google. Google generates $1 billion of cash every two months. If Twitter ends up being worth $0, as some people persist in thinking, Google can just say “oops” and take a minor write-off. If Twitter ends up being worth a lot more than $1 billion, however, as we and others think is likely, Google will make money. If it ends up being a monster, Google will make a lot of money.
Twitter could conceivably threaten Google’s cash cow–search. This “real-time search” meme is actually a compelling story-line. If you want to know what people are talking about right now, you go to Twitter, not Google. Twitter hasn’t figured out how to make bank off that yet, but it may well do so. Remember how much ridicule was heaped on Google’s worthless “search engine” in the early days?
Like Google, Twitter is already a verb. What company do you know of that owns two verbs?
Would $1 billion be enough to get the Twitter boys to part with their baby? It might, actually. $1 billion is still a lot of money, especially for a company with no revenue. And Google’s global distribution and technology infrastructure would be a help to Twitter. So they’d be silly not to take the offer seriousy.