Beleaguered Twitter is in play. That means in the not-so-distant future, some titan of tech likely will make a potentially transformative bet to acquire it. Salesforce, Google, and Disney are the most likely suitors. They’d have to pay at least $16.5 billion, Twitter’s deal-rumor-enhanced valuation.
Conventional wisdom suggests that gigantic tech deals don’t work. That’s especially true when the target is an established player or even a mature-ish company like 10-year-old Twitter. Famous flops include Microsoft’s ill-advised purchase of Nokia and Hewlett Packard’s acquisition of 3Com.
Tech buyers seem to do better when they gobble up promising but fledgling concerns. Facebook appears to have pounced shrewdly by buying, for huge prices, Instagram and WhatsApp when they were barely businesses. Google struck gold by acquiring a company called Applied Semantics, which became AdSense; Keyhole, better known as Google Earth; and Android, before it was a phone.
Could Twitter, once so promising, mesh with a business software maker (Salesforce), an entertainment conglomerate (Disney), or an ad-tech competitor with a ton on its plate (Google)? It feels like we’re about to find out.
Today is the fifth anniversary of the death of Steve Jobs. Fortune’s Don Reisinger explores the sad milestone through the prism of how the company has fared under his successor, Tim Cook.
I looked back Tuesday at the notes I took when I interviewed Jobs six months before his death. Never a fan of acquisitions, at least for Apple, Jobs had plenty to say about what other companies should do. He told me HP should buy Salesforce, which would have been a damn good idea. When we spoke, Cisco had just shuttered its Flip video camera unit, an acquisition Jobs thought Cisco should never have made. He also predicted BlackBerry—still called Research in Motion then—would quickly lose a ton of share in the smartphone business, hardly a foregone conclusion at the time. Now, the BlackBerry phone is on its way out for good.
I’m so grateful to my colleagues Erin Griffith, Mathew Ingram, Michal Lev-Ram, Verne Kopytoff, Andrew Nusca, and Jonathan Vanian for spelling me while I was off working on another project. Thanks also to Heather Clancy, the consistent voice of this newsletter. I’m back now and eager to hear from you.
Adam Lashinsky is assistant managing editor at Fortune. Email him.