Salesforce Prepares Twitter Bid

Twitter will begin reviewing bids from potential buyers as early as this week, and as expected Salesforce will be in the front ranks of bidders, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the company’s effort.

In addition to acquiring a social platform with high brand recognition, Salesforce founder Marc Benioff is especially enthused about the chance to gain access to Twitter’s reams of data on its users, which he hopes to mine for strategic insights on behalf of Salesforce’s customers, per the WSJ. He also believes Twitter has only begun to explore its potential in areas including advertising and e-commerce, which loom large in his plans for Salesforce, a corporate cloud computing giant. Salesforce already integrates Twitter into many of its offerings for corporate customers, for example as a customer service channel.

Industry watchers speculate Twitter could command a price topping $20 billion, which means Salesforce, valued at a mere $49 billion itself, will have to line up some major financing from investors and lenders.

As reported previously, Salesforce also faces rival bids from some of the biggest names in media and technology, including Google, Microsoft, Disney and Verizon. Like Salesforce, Google and Microsoft are said to be interested in tapping into Twitter’s user data. Meanwhile, Disney’s interest in the beleaguered microblogging service was spurred by its recent moves to expand its live streaming video capabilities, in particular its deals with sports leagues to live stream major sporting events.

The WSJ notes that Salesforce is fighting an uphill battle to convince its own investors of the wisdom of a Twitter acquisition, in part because of the potential pitfalls of moving from a primarily business-to-business model – Salesforce’s area of expertise – to a more consumer-facing platform like Twitter.

Indeed, the challenge is especially daunting because one of Twitter’s biggest problems is its failure to attract large numbers of new users, a mission that will require considerable consumer marketing savvy on the part of its new owner, whoever that may be.
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