Poor Twitter. It’s all alone, again. Salesforce chief executive Marc Benioff had considered buying the popular online bulletin board, but he made it clear Friday that that time has passed.
“In this case we’ve walked away,” Benioff told the Financial Times (subscription required). “It wasn’t the right fit for us.”
Salesforce’s professed disinterest is yet another blow to Twitter, a money losing business that is struggling to grow despite having hundreds of millions of users. Other parties that were also reportedly interested in buying Twitter—Disney (DIS), and Google (GOOG)—are also said to have pulled back.
Over the past few days, since talk of Salesforce’s possible bid for Twitter (TWTR) first surfaced, Benioff has steadily back pedaled about buying the company. After all, Twitter would cost around $20 billion, and while Benioff has done big acquisitions in the past—he bought marketing software company ExactTarget for $2.5 billion three years ago—their cost paled in comparison.
Benioff’s interest in Twitter was allegedly driven by a big acquisition that didn’t happen. Salesforce (CRM) was interested in acquiring LinkedIn (LNKD), the business-focused social networking company, only to lose out to Microsoft, which ponied up $26 billion. That acquisition is slated to close this calendar year.
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Benioff was clearly stung. While Salesforce and Microsoft (MSFT) are partners in some respects, they compete in sales software, which is Salesforce’s bread and butter, but only a small part of Microsoft’s software portfolio.
On a recent Salesforce earnings call, Benioff referred to Microsoft’s “monopolistic control” as worrisome. Salesforce’s top lawyer subsequently suggested that European regulators look into the LinkedIn deal to see if it would hurt competition.
Pressed on the reasons for no longer considering a Twitter acquisition, Benioff said the buyer always has to consider price and culture of the target company. Twitter, an ad-based service aimed mostly at regular people, would be a big departure from Salesforce’s core business software focus.
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“You’re going to look at everything,” Benioff said to explain why Salesforce considered Twitter to begin with.
After the Financial Times posted its article about Twitter’s latest setback to an acquisition, Salesforce shares rose nearly 6% to $74.65 based on investor belief that the company is better off without the deal. Meanwhile, Twitter’s shares fell nearly 6% to $16.64 amid yet more concerns that an expected bidding war has fizzled.
Of course, you never know. Things change. Twitter’s price could drop further and then, who knows what can happen?