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Here’s Who May Want Twitter Now That Salesforce Says it Doesn’t

Trading At The NYSE As U.S. Stocks Join Global SlideTrading At The NYSE As U.S. Stocks Join Global Slide
A monitor displays financial news about Twitter at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York on Feb. 11.Photograph by Michael Nagle — Bloomberg via Getty Images

After virtually all of the rumored potential acquirers for Twitter said over the past week or so that they weren’t interested—including Google, Disney and Microsoft—there was still one faint hope: namely, Salesforce. Now that hope has also vanished.

Salesforce (CRM) CEO Marc Benioff told the Financial Times on Friday that he has decided Twitter is not a good fit for the company. Twitter’s stock price slid by more than 6% (TWTR) on the news.

The past few weeks have been a gradual process of Twitter shedding the gains in share price that it made earlier this month after a wave of stories said that a number of tech and media giants were considering an acquisition. At one point, the stock hit the $24 level, giving Twitter a $17.5 billion valuation.

At that point, some reports said Twitter was looking for a $25 billion or even $30 billion acquisition offer. And then the bottom dropped out.

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First, Microsoft (MSFT)—which was never really seen as a likely buyer by most industry observers—said it wasn’t interested. Then anonymous sources told tech news site Recode in quick succession that Google (DIS) would not bid, and that Disney (DIS) wasn’t planning to make an offer either.

The Google news came as a blow to many Twitter fans, who see the web giant as the best fit for Twitter, in part because of Google’s reach and also its expertise in ad sales.

Google also has deep pockets, which would have allowed it to absorb the hundreds of millions of dollars in losses that Twitter will likely rack up, primarily because of high costs, including the cost of issuing increasingly expensive equity options to its employees.

Twitter has a much higher liability in that area than most of its technology counterparts, which may have put off some potential bidders.

The loss of Disney as a potential acquirer, meanwhile, likely came as a disappointment to some senior executives at the company. According to a report by Vanity Fair, a number of senior Twitter management saw Disney as the right home for the service.

Twitter isn’t completely out of options at this point. Some analysts believe that a private-equity fund could acquire the company in a leveraged buyout and then try to restructure it, although they warn that this could mean large layoffs and other changes.

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There’s also the chance that a bidder that hasn’t already expressed interest could come out of the woodwork and make an offer. Some industry watchers have said since the process began that Japanese tech investor SoftBank may be a potential acquirer.

SoftBank recently announced that it is forming a $100-billion fund along with Saudi Arabian investors and wants to invest in technology and media. Saudi investor Prince Al Waleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz is already the second largest shareholder in Twitter.

AT&T (T) is also reportedly looking to invest as much as $50 billion in acquisitions in media, which raises the potential pairing for Twitter that is similar to Verizon’s pending $4.8 billion Yahoo acquisition.

On top of that, there’s the chance that while some bidders were uninterested when Twitter’s shares traded at $24—implying a $25 billion price for the company—they may become more interested now that the stock is $16.88 and its market value is just shy of $12 billion.