Is Google intent on buying Twitter?

by Michael Smith

It sounds like one of those deals that's too big - or at least too obvious - to be true; Google in talks to buy Twitter, though, as far as I see it as someone with a rebellious streak and as someone who always questions “who benefits” that this may actually not be good at all if true.

According to some reports acquisition talks are under way, though details are not all that clear, especially the price. The assumption is that it would be more than the company's internal valuation of $250m, and a more secure figure than the $500m in stock deal that Twitter turned down from Facebook last year.

But talks for what? Would this be an outright acquisition, part acquisition or a search deal?

It would be sad to see Twitter lose its independence, though it is perhaps inevitable. Twitter is backed by some extremely influential investors who, despite their apparently unwavering support for the firm, will want a meaty return on their investments at some point. What could be more reliable in the web world than hard Google cash, with some shares thrown in for good measure?

It could be for just a stake in the firm, which would mean Twitter retained control and that precious independence or, then again, it could be an outright buy and that would not be too good, in my opinion. Real-time communication and search, along with social media context, are going becoming crucial to the web - as Google knows. It's not inconceivable, you could argue, that those dynamics could push Twitter to same heights as even Google one day, and then they will wish they had that precious autonomy.

Though much of the recent media buzz around Twitter has been outside its control (Twitter has only just stated recruiting a PR...), it has also created intense interest in the site and no doubt helped bolster its valuation claims.

What else does this say about Twitter? With the big 'if' caveat - if this is true - it vindicates Twitter's regular assurances that there really is money in them there hills. Google clearly sees where the money lies, and it will be fascinating to see what unfolds.

The problem, yet again, as I see it, could be that the loss of independence could lead, as so often, to a loss in control of say as to what goes and what not and, do we really want to have the site full of Google ads and such like.

Also, as we all know, Google's policies towards some countries and their demands to be given access and information of users is way to open handed. Once again, as so often in these cases, the freedom of the Internet is as stake.

This is the same as with the talks of IBM to acquire Sun Microsystems and with it a chunk in the Open Source software market, including the every more popular Open Office suite.

Anyone like me with a mind that questions everything like that probably will come to the same conclusion and that is that this is not a good sign, for the independence and freedom of applications such as Twitter, which is basically the CB Radio of the Internet, as well as for Open Source software.

© M Smith (Veshengro), 2009