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Twitter Is In Play, But Big Tech Buyouts Don’t Usually Work

October 5, 2016, 12:30 PM UTC

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 (CRM), Google (GOOG), and Disney (DIS) 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 Enterprise’s acquisition of 3Com (in its pre-HPE days).

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Tech buyers seem to do better when they gobble up promising but fledgling concerns.

Facebook (FB) appears to have pounced shrewdly by buying, for huge prices, Instagram and WhatsApp when they were barely businesses. Google (GOOG) 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 (TWTR), 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.