Twitter could take many forms, depending on new owner

Mon Sep 26, 2016 10:11pm EDT
 
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By Liana B. Baker

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept 26 (Reuters) - With speculation mounting that Twitter Inc will soon have a new corporate owner, the 10-year-old social networking service - which has long struggled to define its core purpose -may end up heading in one of several distinctly different directions depending on who ends up paying for it.

Companies including Salesforce.com Inc, Walt Disney Co and Alphabet Inc's Google have shown interest in Twitter, which is working with investment banks to evaluate its options, according to people familiar with the matter.

With Salesforce.com, Twitter might turn its focus to customer service communications and mining its database of tweets for business intelligence. Google would likely be most interested in the social and news dimensions of Twitter. Disney, by contrast, might see it as a way to expand the reach of its sports and entertainment programming.

It is not clear how quickly Twitter might approach a sale, but it is moving to formalize the process, sources have said. A deal is by no means assured in light of the company's uncertain financial prospects and steep price tag - its market value is more than $16 billion after talk of a sale drove the stock up over the past few days.

Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey, speaking at a conference in Washington on Monday, declined to comment on possible sale talks.

CORPORATE ROUTE?

Salesforce.com, run by CEO Marc Benioff, is focused on cloud-based sales and marketing software; unlike Twitter, its main product is aimed at businesses users, not consumers. Under Salesforce.com, Twitter could become a corporate tool used to power sentiment analysis and nurture customer relationships.

Salesforce.com already uses the Twitter "firehose" for its new artificial intelligence platform, Einstein.   Continued...