The Walt Disney Company is evaluating a potential bid for Twitter, Bloomberg reported on today, citing people familiar with the matter. Unconfirmed reports that Twitter is interested in selling itself buoyed the San Francisco-based company’s shares at the end of last week, and the stock price rose around a percentage point today as talk of Disney’s interest spread.
Twitter co-founder and chief executive Jack Dorsey is on the entertainment colossus’s board, which could help the service with its push toward using the messaging platform for streaming live video. Twitter will be among the online media broadcasting the first US presidential debate between the Democratic and Republican candidates tonight. Disney did not respond to an AFP request for comment.
Chatter about a possible Twitter sale has intensified amid sputtering efforts to transform the one-to-many messaging platform into a profitable business. Google and Salesforce were considered prime suitors.
Microsoft and Verizon were also on the list of potential buyers. Technology news site Recode said Twitter is seeking up to USD 30 billion, which could limit the number of bidders. Reports that the popular messaging platform was opening its doors to potential buyers have been circulating for weeks.
“Twitter was positioning for sale for some time,” technology industry analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group said. “The problem is, since they are not profitable, finding someone to actually pay money for them.”
Analysts have long maintained that Twitter needs to find new ways to boost its appeal beyond a core of celebrities, politicians and journalists, with its user base stagnant for the past year. In its last quarterly update, Twitter said the number of monthly active users edged up to 313 million, up three percent from a year ago to only slightly more than the 310 million users in the prior quarter.
The company has yet to post a profit even after ramping up advertising efforts. Analysts remain cautious about Twitter’s ability to accelerate growth and break out of its rut. It is far behind Facebook – which boasts more than 1.7 billion users – as well as Facebook-owned Instagram, with some 500 million. Last month, eMarketer said Twitter’s share of US social network users will decline to 28.1 per cent this year from 28.4 per cent in 2015, and continue to drop through 2020 as it loses users to Snap, Instagram, and other messaging apps.