By Ananya Bhattacharya/ Quartz
Twitter might put a “for sale” sign up soon. Ever since Yahoo found a buyer, tech investors have been hopeful about a Twitter acquisition. In a year of dismal stock performance, Twitter has seen shares jump on optimism that a takeover could happen. On the heels of Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn, Twitter’s stock climbed 14%. On 31st August, after Ev Williams fuelled speculations of a possible acquisition—he went on Bloomberg TV to say the board had “to consider the right options”—shares jumped 6%.
This isn’t the first time rumours of an acquisition have come to the fore. Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp recently denied that it was considering buying Twitter, but big names like Google and Apple are still in the running as potential acquirers. Google could use Twitter’s 300 million-strong user base to put up a fight against Facebook in the social space, Saxo Bank’s head of equity recently told MarketWatch. A private equity firm could also come in to whisk the troubled company out of public sight as it deals with the company’s slowing growth. (Twitter just reported the slowest quarter of revenue growth since going public.)
But scouting for potential buyers isn’t going to be easy. Twitter’s estimated cost is possibly too high: “Using the same multiple LinkedIn got from Microsoft in its recent $26 billion acquisition deal, a Twitter buyer would have to fork over about $18 billion,” reports Recode. To ease the burden of a hefty price tag, Twitter might need another round of layoffs. In October, shortly after Jack Dorsey was appointed permanent CEO of Twitter, the company cut 8% of its workforce.
Before selling, Twitter needs to do some housekeeping. The company is still struggling to combat abuse and safety concerns. All the accolades it garnered for sweeping the platform clean of ISIL-related accounts have been countered with the rise of white nationalists and racist trolls.
The other barrier to an acquisition is Dorsey himself, who’s made clear in the past he wants Twitter to continue operating as an independent company. And though he has the support of the board, investors are running low on patience. As the firm MoffettNathanson put it in a note after downgrading Twitter’s stock to sell: “hope is not a strategy.”