Some of the technology industry’s most prominent companies are interested in acquiring Twitter this year, according to a new report.
Internet giant Google (GOOGL) and customer relationship management company Salesforce (CRM) are among the tech companies expressing interest in bidding for Twitter, CNBC is reporting, citing sources. While no deal is imminent, talks between the companies are reportedly intensifying, and a bid and subsequent agreement could be signed by the end of 2016.
Twitter’s shares are soaring on the news, up 20.5% in early trading on Friday. Both Google and Salesforce shares are down 0.21% and 3.7%, respectively, suggesting their investors aren’t as excited about a possible Twitter (TWTR) buyout.
Talk of a potential Twitter buyout has intensified in recent quarters as the company’s turnaround efforts have largely fallen short. Twitter has yet to turn a generate a profit despite growing revenue, and investors are concerned that its slowing user growth could be a liability as Internet users increasing turn to photo-sharing app Instagram (FB) or social service Snapchat to communicate with friends. Celebrities, which have long been central to Twitter’s appeal, are also increasingly using Instagram and Snapchat, creating even more concern.
Meanwhile, Twitter has pinned its future on Jack Dorsey, the company’s co-founder who took the reins last year and has since served as chief executive for both Twitter and Square (SQ). In March, several current and former executives spoke to Fortune about Dorsey’s turnaround plans. While Dorsey himself wasn’t made available for the interview, the company argued that if anyone could fix Twitter, it would be Dorsey. He’s hoping to address Twitter’s major problems by enhancing its service, curbing abuse, making video a more important component in its offering, and increase its reach through apps, among other plans.
Recently, Twitter made an important change to its service by loosening its restrictions on the 140-character limit that has defined its social network for the last decade. Now, photos, videos, animated GIFs, and polls attached to a tweet will not count towards the 140-character limit.
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Still, despite those changes and several others over the last year, Dorsey has done little to move the needle. In Twitter’s last-reported quarter ended June 30, the company’s revenue grew by $100 million to $602 million. However, it posted a $107 million loss. In the last year, even with Friday’s surge, Twitter’s shares are down 15.6% to $22.65. The periodic jumps in recent months have come when Twitter has acknowledged it would be willing to sell for the right price.
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The latest such jump happened earlier this month, when Twitter co-founder Evan Williams said that the company must consider a buyout offer. The stock jumped 6%, similar to the gains it notched when earlier rumors surfaced saying that Saudi billionaire Prince Al Waleed bin Talal and former Microsoft (MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer had interest in buying it. Those deals never materialized.
The trouble for Twitter—and the problem that could scuttle any deal with Google, Salesforce, or another company—is its slow revenue and user growth and fears over its profitability. RBC analyst Mark Mahaney downgraded his outlook on Twitter on fears the company couldn’t overcome problems attracting the lifeblood of its business: users and advertisers.
Still, CNBC’s David Faber says those concerns, while present in the minds of potential bidders, haven’t yet slowed down talks. And at least right now, a Twitter bid is coming into focus.
Twitter, Google, and Salesforce did not immediately respond to a Fortune request for comment.