That Whole Salesforce Twitter Thing Was A Lark

For a moment there it looked like Salesforce was going to buy Twitter, until it didn’t. But it turns out Twitter was never a serious long-term acquisition target anyway, judging by a leaked presentation for the Salesforce board of directors circulated earlier this year.

The document, filched from the hacked emails of board member Colin Powell, rounds up more than a dozen potential acquisitions considered by Salesforce – and Twitter is nowhere to be seen.

Salesforce looked at a wide swath of its competitive set, suggesting there wasn’t a set goal in mind. Some of the companies are big enough that an acquisition would fundamentally transform the Salesforce business model, while others are fairly small, and perhaps intended to simply fill a market niche.

On that note, the list of prospects reviewed by the company’s board ranges from Adobe, with around 14,000 employees and forecast revenues of $5.8 billion this year, all the way down to Marketo, with under 1,000 employees and revenues of $273 million.



Also under consideration were LinkedIn (nabbed by Microsoft before Salesforce could act), Workday, Servicenow, Netsuite, and Qlik Q, among others, some of them also acquired by other companies in the meantime.

As noted, Twitter is conspicuous by its absence, raising the questions of when and why a consumer-facing social network with no particular connection to the workplace appeared on the Salesforce radar.

By all accounts, the idea was an inspiration of Salesforce founder and CEO Marc Benioff, who probably viewed Twitter as a target of opportunity after Microsoft stole a march with the LinkedIn acquisition in June. That's when Twitter’s own woes and sagging share price fueled serious speculation of a sale beginning around the same time (if not earlier).

Reports that Salesforce was considering a bid subsequently brought a brief pile-in by other big tech companies, with rumored rival bids from the likes of Google, Apple, Microsoft and Verizon. However, they all piled out again just as quickly, with Salesforce last out the lobby, leaving outside observers to wonder whether the price was too high, the underlying business fundamentals too weak, or some combination thereof.
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