Sun, Apr 05, 2009 - Page 11 News List

Twitter co-founder dismisses reports of Google buyout


Twitter co-founder Biz Stone said on Friday following a report that Google was seeking to purchase the hot micro-blogging service that his goal was to build a “profitable, independent company.”

Stone, in a brief post on the Twitter blog, said that “it should come as no surprise that Twitter engages in discussions with other companies regularly and on a variety of subjects.

“Our goal is to build a profitable, independent company and we’re just getting started,” Stone said in the post, which he called “a response to the latest Internet speculation about where Twitter is headed.”

Stone’s comments came hours after influential technology blogger Michael Arrington, writing on his blog TechCrunch, said Internet search giant Google was in talks to acquire the hot San Francisco-based startup.

Citing sources familiar with the matter, Arrington said the price was unknown but it was likely to be “well, well north” of the US$250 million valuation placed on Twitter in a recent round of venture capital funding.

Arrington said Google would pay cash or publicly valued stock for Twitter, which turned down a US$500 million takeover offer from social network colossus Facebook just a few months ago.

Arrington initially reported that Google and Twitter were in “late-stage negotiations” but he backed off that assertion slightly in a later post in which he said the acquisition talks were “still fairly early stage.”

Kara Swisher, another respected Silicon Valley blogger, writing on her blog Boomtown, dismissed the report by rival TechCrunch.

“While the ‘news’ that Google was in ‘late-stage’ talks to acquire Twitter, which TechCrunch reported last night, certainly sounds exciting, it isn’t accurate in any way,” Swisher said.

Swisher said the two firms have held “product-related discussions” around “real-time search and the search giant better crawling the microblogging service.”

“No negotiations, no deal, nada,” she quoted an unnamed source as saying.

Twitter’s potential as a real-time search engine has sparked recurring bouts of speculation that Google may be interested in buying the company.

“We’ve been arguing for some time that Twitter’s real value is in search,” Arrington said. “It holds the keys to the best real time database and search engine on the Internet and Google doesn’t even have a horse in the game.”

Google chief executive Eric Schmidt took some flak earlier this year for calling Twitter a “poor man’s e-mail” but backed away from the description in later comments saying “we admire Twitter.”

“We think Twitter did a very good job of exposing a whole new way to communicate,” he said.

But he said Google was not in the market for acquisitions at the moment.

“I’m not sure prices are at their low yet,” Schmidt said. “The situation globally is pretty dire. We are certainly looking. We haven’t seen anything yet that was really exciting.”

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