US$10 billion for Twitter is not out of the question

Twitter, the micro-blogging sensation expected to rake in US$150-million in advertising revenue this year, is looking at an acquisition by Google and Facebook as the Wall Street Journal has just revealed.

Some “low-level talks” between executives of the companies have been discussed, though the Journal adds that “the talks have so far gone nowhere”. Twitter would be looking at between US$8-billion and US$10-billion if a deal were to go through. That is around 100 times the amount of revenue that Twitter, who reported losses last year, expects to earn this year.

Emma Barnett at the Daily Telegraph says the talks come as no surprise, even if US$10-billion may sound optimistic for a company whose 2010 revenue was $45 million and registerd an overall loss.

For Google, the incentive is accessing Twitter’s data so it can make real-time information an integrated part of its offer to users – and not just an add-on. Google has, after all, been indexing Twitter users’ tweets to add a real-time element to its searches since 2009.

In Facebook’s interests, full access to Twitter’s rich data sources would help it become “the social web, within the web”. Barnett says if Facebook wants to be the home of all social interactions on the web, it needs to own Twitter’s platform, or at least enjoy a deep partnership.

To put the value of a colossal deal of this magnitude another way, at a US$10 billion price tag, Twitter is valued at $105 for each of the 95 million tweets its users write every day. Officials from Twitter, Facebook and Google all declined to comment on any aspects of the reported talks.

Until news of the acquisition talks emerged today, the San Francisco-based Twitter’s current valuation was understood to stand at $3.7 billion, fueled largely by a US$200-million injection last year.

Are these prices justifiable based on the financials? No say venture capitals who have spoken to various media outlets, from the Jerusalem Post to the Wall Street Journal.

The fact, however, is that the sites are building social networks and have plenty of data on its users, and the market is really valuing that right now. With Groupon having declined a US$6-billion offer from Google recently, the optimism and values are high.

Since valuations are in the eye of the buyer, Twitter’s worth is what Google or Facebook are ultimately willing to pay.

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, has stated that the site, which has fended off several buyers, intends to remain an independent company and is not considering going public. However, perhaps a deal of this magnitude may just be enough to change the perspective of Twitter and its shareholders?



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