The blogosphere loves a juicy Google rumor, but just like any rumor mill, some of what gets pushed through is true and some isn’t. In the case of the recent TechCrunch-fueled rumor about Google being in the late stages of acquiring hot microblogging service Twitter, most of the talk seems confined to the realm of hearsay. Michael Arrington said “Here’s a heck of a rumor that we’ve sourced from two separate people close to the negotiations: Google is in late stage negotiations to acquire Twitter. We don’t know the price but can assume it’s well, well north of the $250 million valuation that they saw in their recent funding.”
However, BoomTown’s Kara Swisher shot back with this headline: “Sorry to Get You All A-Twitter, but Google Is Not in ‘Late-Stage Talks’ to Acquire the Hot Microblogging Service.” Well, it doesn’t get much clearer than that, right? According to Swisher, the two companies have been discussing products and things such as real-time search, but nothing more.
Swisher’s assessment certainly fits better with Twitter’s past response to acquisition attempts; last fall, the San Francisco-based startup rejected a $500 million offer from Facebook. Also, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said last month that the company intends to hold onto its money for now, which it seems to be doing, cutting advertising programs such as Radio Ads and letting go of some 200-300 employees at the end of March.
Twitter co-founder Biz Stone also (indirectly) tackled the rumor on The Colbert Report, saying that the company wants to remain independent for now—the subtext being independent AND profitable, which Twitter hopes to do by launching paid commercial accounts in the future.
Still, there’s a lot of incentive for Google—or any major search player, for that matter—to try and woo Twitter into its ad-serving arms, if for no other reason than Twitter’s ability to provide instant information-sharing. Twitter also has a history of breaking news stories such as the Hudson River plane crash in January in advance of major news sources.
So, no, it doesn’t appear that Twitter is in eminent danger of being swept into the Google empire. But in Silicon Valley, as we all know, everything’s for sale at the right price.