Is it Twitter’s turn to be acquired? At least one analyst believes it’s only a matter of time.
Speaking to The New York Times in an interview published on Friday, SunTrust Robinson Humphrey Internet equity analyst Robert Peck said that as long as the social market continues on the same path, “it’s inevitable that Twitter will get acquired.” He didn’t elaborate on the social market’s existing trends and how they could change.
Peck’s comments come after Microsoft announced earlier this week that it was planning to acquire LinkedIn for $26.2 billion. Microsoft (MSFT) said that LinkedIn (LNKD) would continue to operate independently, though the companies hinted that the professional social network could be integrated into a rash of Microsoft products, including its cloud-based productivity suite Office 365, as well as its customer-relationship-management service Dynamics. LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner said the deal would allow his company to grow at a larger scale.
If the LinkedIn acquisition closes, it would leave Twitter as one of the few notable social networks that hasn’t been acquired. Save for Facebook, which has built itself into the world’s largest social network, nearly every notable social network over the years has been acquired, ranging from MySpace to YouTube to Tumblr. Even Instagram, which came on the scene years after Twitter, has already been swallowed up.
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Exactly why Twitter hasn’t been acquired yet is unknown. Rumors have swirled that Facebook (FB) and Google (GOOGL), which previously acquired social networks Instagram and YouTube, respectively, had at least investigated a Twitter buy, but eventually walked away. Other reports say that media companies hoping to expand their ownership of content have also considered a Twitter acquisition before nixing the idea.
So, what’s wrong with Twitter? Aside from constant questions from market analysts whether Twitter can turn things around, the company is unprofitable, its revenue growth is slowing, and it’s having trouble attracting as many users as analysts might like. In the first quarter, Twitter’s troubles were brought to (harsh) light, after the company reported revenue of $594.5 million. The company lost $79.7 million during the period.
Meanwhile, investors have grown increasingly concerned that Twitter can actually turn things around. Over the last year, in fact, its shares are down nearly 54%. While LinkedIn is also unprofitable, it has something Microsoft wanted: A link to businesses.
Ultimately, then, Twitter will need to find its own way. The company argues it can turn things around and go it alone, but it’s hard to argue it’s not facing serious headwinds. And at a valuation of $11.2 billion as of this writing, it’s a relatively cheap buy for a company that has bundles of cash.
And what company might make such a deal? According to the Times, Peck believes Alphabet represents the most likely buyer. However, he doesn’t believe any Twitter acquisition would happen until 2017, at the earliest.
Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.