Report: Twitter in sales talks with Google, Salesforce

Sarah Frier, Alex Sherman and Brian Womack

Twitter Inc. is holding informal talks with several potential buyers and is working with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to help with a possible deal, people familiar with the situation said. Inc. is one of the main parties interested in the San Francisco-based social media company, said the people, who asked not to be named because the information isn’t public.

Twitter’s stock has fallen after several quarters of slowing growth. The company is attractive because of its data, user base and influence in politics, culture and the media. Twitter recently expanded into live video streaming, making it possible for some users to watch NFL games for free, with Tweets related to the game appearing alongside the video. It’s making similar deals for content related to politics, business and entertainment.

Twitter co-founder and board member Ev Williams fueled takeover speculation last month when he said in an interview that the company has "to consider the right options." He was responding to a question on Bloomberg TV about whether Twitter can remain an independent company.

Twitter shares surged as much as 23 percent to $22.89 on Friday after CNBC the company has received expressions of interest from several technology or media companies and may get a formal bid shortly.

Salesforce earlier this year unsuccessfully bid to acquire LinkedIn Corp., and Twitter could provide similar benefits. Though Twitter is typically considered a consumer product, it’s a place where professionals and companies go to build brands and influence customers and their industries. Twitter may appreciate merging with a technology company as opposed to a media company, where it may have conflicts over content.

For Salesforce, Twitter offers a trove of data that could help improve the software that businesses use to manage relationships with customers. The social media company’s more than 300 million users include many professionals — people who Salesforce customers already may be targeting for potential deals.

Twitter is often rumored as a takeover target, especially for Alphabet Inc. division Google, which has considered and then decided not to acquire the company over the years. Google aspires to be the main provider of information, and the rise of social media in the form of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and others has created a massive source of new data that is mostly out of the reach of its search engine. Google already partners with Twitter to show recent tweets in its search results, and has worked to integrate Twitter with its DoubleClick advertising service. Twitter last year added Omid Kordestani, a former Google executive, as an executive chairman of its board.

Representatives for Salesforce, Alphabet and Twitter declined to comment.