Why Google Aren’t Buying Twitter

Disclaimer: I’m no fan of Twitter

Google partnered with Twitter to bring the world real time search a couple of years back (which I slammed at the time) and that arrangement has quietly lapsed recently – which has led to speculation this week about whether the search giant is or should be opening their wallet for an acquisition.

I suspect not.

Twitter isn’t monetised. In fact, Twitter will never be monetised. For a cash rich, ever-growing company like Google, buying something like Twitter would be relatively small beer but would serve no purpose other than gaining another infrastructure to support.

And my gut says that Google know that something’s in the water. Eric Schmidt was also talking this week about whether there’s a bubble in tech – which made me chortle seeing as I made the same suggestion not 4 days ago in these pages. The fact is that the global economy is likely to undergo some colossal reverberations in the next 18 months.

Why? I’ll show you why:

Outside the tech bubble, the storms are gathering. There’s a better than 50% chance that either the US or the Eurozone is going to suffer a fiscal shock bigger than 2008 in the next 12 months – and backdraft from that will pop any number of bubbles.

While the silicon valley venture capital scene is all still about those fluttering eyelashes and exciting start-ups like Groupon (actual business value: nil) Google are playing a smarter game, IMO.

As part of their new, more corporate look, Google also binned little things like The Wonder Wheel, Google Power Meter, Google Health, Google Realtime and so on. These represented interesting projects that were effectively unmonetisable. Aside from the halo effect, they added nothing to Google’s bottom line – and the fact that they’ve been dropped tells me that Google are battening down the hatches to ride out the next couple of years of major uncertainty. There’s no way in that climate that picking up a white elephant like Twitter makes any kind of sense (I think Google+ is a kind of hedge bet: if Facebook doesn’t make it through the crash, Google has put down a marker)

And for Twitter themselves? Well their own window of opportunity to sell out narrows every day. The second crash will wipe out lots of glitteringly hyped start-ups like Foursquare and Groupon – and more importantly Twitter’s notional market value. It will survive, but will be picked up for relative peanuts as a brand acquisition somewhere down the line.

And not by Google.


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