Twitter has begun talks with several tech firms, including Google and Salesforce, to explore selling itself, CNBC reported this morning. Microsoft and Verizon may also be suitors, according to TechCrunch.
However, Verizon spokesperson Bob Verettoni told GeekWire that “Verizon typically declines comment on M&A rumors; however, there has been a rumor circulating that Verizon has made a standing offer for Twitter, and we have said on the record that this is entirely false.” Verizon is in the process of acquiring Yahoo for more than $4.8 billion, but news of a massive Yahoo data breach has put a cloud over that deal.
Twitter shares rose sharply to $22.77, up 22 percent. Before today, they had fallen 30 percent over the past year as rivals including Instagram and Snapchat gain traction with both advertisers and users and as investors question whether Twitter can survive as an independent company.
Twitter’s board of directors wants to sell, and a formal bid may come “shortly,” said CNBC, citing unnamed “people close to the situation.” But CNBC also said “no sale is imminent,” without accounting for the discrepancy.
Negotiations are picking up steam and could be concluded by year-end, CNBC quoted one source as saying. The would-be buyers are said to be as interested in Twitter’s data as they are in its status as a media company.
If Microsoft owned both LinkedIn and Twitter, it could become a digital-communications and data company as much as a software and cloud-services vendor. Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is a major Twitter investor, with a reported 4-percent stake.
Shares of Google parent Alphabet were down slightly at $814.65 in morning trading. Salesforce shares were down 3.5 percent at $71.99. Microsoft shares were down 0.6 percent at $57.46, and Verizon shares were up 0.3 percent at $52.48. Alphabet, Salesforce, and Twitter all failed to immediately respond to our requests for comment. Microsoft declined to comment.
Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey returned to the company as chief executive in 2015, but his plan for reviving Twitter is at best seen as unfinished, noted Yahoo News.