Twitter business

Don't know if you're quite aware of this. We're up for sale, all the 313 million or so of us, qualifying as "active Twitter users". Well, users: hardly the word they handle when speaking of us. When you read what some high-faluting "analysts" think about us, for instance in the Financial Times this Monday, September 26th, 2016, you'll learn that we are "increasingly becoming a direct tool for customer support."

That sounds pretty - er - "supportive". But then maybe we should. Consider ourselves as customers, I mean. All the 313 million of us, part of a big commercial rather than a social media. Commercial in this case means, also, that there's a price tag on us. According to Bloomberg, we're worth some 16 billion dollars. Hardly gratifying, when you look at the figure more closely: 16 billion means that each one us are valued at around 53.33 dollars. In other words: peanuts. We don't count for mucho. We have absolutely no say in the matter.

Twitter Inc.

So why sell? Well, the revenues have been lackluster and, quote unquote, Twitter Inc. is struggling "to meet expectations for user growth", as the usual suspects within the analyst crowd are wont to say. This year, the company hopes for a meager 14% growth in mobile ad revenues. Makes one want to cry, doesn't it? And its share price, although it has risen some (since the sale announcement), is way down compared to the 2015 valuation.

Poor struggling Twitter Inc. It has tried to try harder. For instance by allowing people to trespass the 140-characters limit by appending 140 billion pixels pictures and videos. We are some who find this quite annoying. You open Twitter and what do you get? Not text but mostly infantile coloring-book style images. Some even tweet pictures of texts that go way over the 140-limit. So it goes. Then there's the spamming. Thanks to some devious cookie, my tablet regularly beckons me with frigging Google ads. I do try to ignore them.

Now Google, our favourite bad guy. Google Inc. is one of the possible buyers of Twitter Inc. That would be something, wouldn't it? Twitter, our pundits say, "could be a new growth engine for Google's advertising business into the network, which faces a challenge as it tries to translate its search business to mobile devices." There it is. Not only are we, the users, supportive customers, but they're hoping to "translate" us into mobile ad crunchers. The same goes for the other hopeful bidders, Apple, Salesforce, Microsoft, Verizon: access to Twitter's user data is what they're after.


This doesn't make for good news. Twitter was, and still largely remains, the best anti-Facebook device available, no frill, no intrusive algorithms, no make-believe virtual community hype, and so on. Of course, according to a survey by Pear Analytics in 2009, 40.5% of the Twitter contents can be boiled down to "pointless babble", and 37.5% to mere narcissic "conversational" quips made by people who, according to the historian Christopher Lasch, "doubt even the reality of their own existence".

I read that in a piece by Harry Eyres published in the Financial Times on July 9th, 2011. This was some time ago. But it's kept alive by sitting in my archives, in a solid binder with very real folders in it. It's nice to keep old good articles that way, I think. One can look them up easy whenever one wishes to. Eyres, by the way, held a nice column called "The Slow Lane" in that paper's week-end edition, totally unconnected, aloof & dreamy, a pleasure to read, but he's disappeared since from the paper, alas. So it goes.

Now, there is a good piece of news as well. Although, yes, Twitter Inc. has hired Goldman Sachs "to field potential buyers", Jack Dorsey, founder and head of Twitter isn't so keen on the sell-out according to the reports. So maybe we should be a bit supportive of Jack.

Who knows? Well, time, as usual,will tell.