Twitter Drives The Speculation Machine

    February 28, 2009
    WebProNews Staff

The rising speculation among the technorati out there is that Twitter is the next big acquisition. There have already been offers made and turned down, but one expert thinks the buyer will be Google or Yahoo because search can’t afford to miss out on Twitter’s potential as a disruptive force—the word “killer” once again deployed in hyperbolic force.

Twitter and Google Logos

We’ve yet to see a Microsoft killer, and perhaps the chances of a Google-killer are equally likely. But when John Battelle sends the conversation that way people tend to listen. On his blog, Battelle equated Twitter to YouTube, not in the sense they’re similar services, but in the sense that Google must buy Twitter the way the company “had to” buy YouTube.

Battelle argues, citing evidence currently under hack-attack at its host site that more searches are done on YouTube than on Yahoo, that buying YouTube was a search investment, not a video investment, which makes sense in light of the attempt at and failure of Google Video.

John Battelle
John Battelle

“So, fast forward to today,” writes Battelle. “What’s the most important and quickly growing form of search on the web today? Real time, conversational search. And who’s the YouTube of real time search? Yep. Twitter. It’s an asset Google cannot afford to not own, and also, one they most likely do not have the ability (or brand permission) to build on their own.”

Other speculation is that Twitter is a threat to Google itself, which seems to me highly unlikely, but it’s that type of hype that may make founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone less likely to sell. After all, Sergey Brin and Larry Page tried to sell out early with Google but had no takers—boy don’t those who turned down an opportunity to buy Google straight out of Stanford feel like dopes now?

It’s also this type of speculation that artificially inflates values. Remember when Facebook valuations hit $100 billion? That still seems ridiculously high even as Facebook approaches 200 million members, especially because, like Twitter, Facebook doesn’t have much of a revenue model. Without the way Google revolutionized search advertising would it have ever been worth what it is today?

And that’s the main problem now—with all of them: MySpace, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter—there’s no sustainable revenue model. None of them necessarily have to hurry, either. The first two have megamultinational corporations behind them for freedom to experiment. The other two have lots of venture funding. Stone and Williams still have Google IPO money and, presumably, what they got out of selling Blogger to Google before.

Though it’s probably unwise to disagree with John Battelle, I don’t see any sale anytime soon. In addition to no empty-wallet incentive, Stone and Williams are being lit up with words like “Google killer,” which may further deter them from selling out. If they run out of money and ideas, maybe then they’ll reconsider.