Quinn: Salesforce’s mission of love as it possibly pursues buying Twitter

It is hard to find a way that Salesforce buying Twitter makes sense except love.

Love of Twitter, for its real-time platform, its 24/7 river of opinions and news, its 10-year history of being the place many go to talk when something happens in their cities or in the world.

That love is likely combined with fear that the company, even under CEO and co-founder Jack Dorsey, who took over Twitter in 2015, really can’t figure out a way to be an independent firm over the long term.

It has struggled to grow its user base even as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat have mushroomed in size.

Advertisers have been leaving, as CNBC reported. Executives have been running for the exits. And it has been besieged with how to handle harassment on its platform, as reported many times.

Even with its smart moves such as live-streaming events, such as NFL games and the three upcoming presidential debates, Twitter still has a mountain to climb in terms of gaining meaningful viewers to compete with the likes of network TV and cable.

Rumors that Twitter may entertain bids from Salesforce, Alphabet, the parent company of Google, and other potential buyers sent shares of the firm up more than 20 percent on Friday, as Rex Crum wrote.

While Google’s interest makes sense — it has struggled to find a foothold in social media — Salesforce, the business-to-business cloud solutions provider, doesn’t as much.

The company, led by Marc Benioff, appears to want a social network, having lost a bid for LinkedIn earlier this year to Microsoft.

But Twitter?

Mark Mahaney, the RBC analyst, said on CNBC that for Salesforce, LinkedIn “was the asset that would have really have been useful to them.”

“Twitter is less useful,” he added.

Ouch.

TechCrunch speculates that Salesforce could use Twitter to expand into new businesses by tapping into the stream of real-time data that Twitter produces.

Maybe, but a more likely rationale is that Benioff wants to buy Twitter because, because….

Love of course.

Benioff has issued nearly 13,000 tweets and has 275,000 followers. He uses Twitter like his own personal public access channel to promote Salesforce, of course, but also to chime in on news of the day or take elected officials to task.

Vala Afshar, Salesforce’s chief digital evangelist, outlined that love in a tweet Friday:

He followed that up a few hours later, walking back the timing of his earlier tweet:

Twitter has tried to be an independent public company. It’s tired.

Sure, if Twitter becomes part of a larger firm, whether it is Google or Salesforce, it will lose some of its renegade, bumpier characteristics.

But Twitter needs to survive, and in good hands. Its fate matters, more than Yahoo or LinkedIn and more than many other Internet companies.

Twitter is, as Afshar says, a way to “democratize intelligence.”

Salesforce’s shares are down more than 5 percent Friday after media reports reported the Twitter rumors. Maybe Salesforce shareholders are also struggling with the rationale for such an acquisition, however exciting it may be.

Benioff will have to figure out how to translate his love into something that Salesforce shareholders will understand.

Above: Outside Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco. (John Green/Bay Area News Group)

 

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  • ttt

    Why are there still so many naysayers about Twitter even after today’s big news? I guess that just proves that those so-called experts are in fact dumber than you and I.

    • Lafayette Escadrill

      Experts don’t contribute to anything, they just BS.

 
 
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