Twitter shares down 10 per cent as data licensing activities come under spotlight

Apparently, no one wants to buy Twitter. Or at least that’s what the company told CNBC recently. There are “no bids on the table”, it told the broadcaster. However, speculation that there are interested parties looking to buy the social media network has helped push Twitter’s share up in price in recent days. Having seen Microsoft buy LinkedIn for $26 billion and Verizon buy Yahoo! for $5 billion, tech industry observers are probably wondering what the eventual selling price will be for Twitter. With more than 300 million active users a month, of whom 66 million are in the US, Twitter is one of the most popular and highest-profile social networks. However, its user numbers do seem to have plateaued and it has not been moving much closer to making money for its shareholder, with a loss of $107 million on revenues of $600 million in the past year. With cash reserves of $3.6 billion, it can ride out more than a few rough patches over the next year or two, but it probably won’t have to wait that long before it’s part of one of the big media empires. Google had previously expressed an interest in buying Twitter, but now, there will be other would-be suitors. Analyst’s view — Clive Longbottom, Quocirca: “Twitter has reached that ‘what is it really good for?’ point. For those with thousands of followers, it is a vague mouthpiece of headlines connected to links to larger items — sort of a glorified news feed. “To those with fewer followers, it is a possible means of vicariously following others — particularly the ghost-written Tweets of celebrities. “For companies, other social media platforms get better visibility — and Twitter has struggled to find a means of keeping itself valid in an ever-changing social media world.” Dell’s purchase of EMC now official Almost 12 months after Dell’s announcement that it wants to buy EMC for $67 billion the deal is now finally official. Dell had faced many legal and regulatory hurdles in its proposed takeover, mainly because its global scope. But now that Chinese authorities have given the go-ahead, the two separate enterprises can set about the process of merging into one. This process of combining the two companies is said to be potentially quite complicated, partly because of the way EMC is structured. According to TechCrunch.com, EMC is a more a federation of affiliated companies than a single corporate entity. Share prices in the companies fluctuated somewhat over the past year, but the growing power of Amazon Web Services, as well as Microsoft and Google, in the enterprise space probably means Dell and EMC have little choice but to face the future together or possibly see themselves being left behind. Analyst’s view — Clive Longbottom, Quocirca: “Joe Tucci had built the EMC Federation up to make any acquisition by an external as difficult as possible, with different divisions having fingers in other divisions’ pies, and some parts of the company being fully public while others were only partially traded. “Michael Dell has had to deal with all of that. He has stated that he is not keen on a Federation model — yet he has indicated that the essential makeup of the old Federation will remain. “However, the divestment of the old Documentum/Leap software arms shows that he will make decisions — it just remains to be seen how the markets take to such changes.” Salesforce nudges further into enterprise race with Quip purchase Compared to the above two deals, the amount Salesforce paid to buy Quip would seem small change. But $750 million — which is what Salesforce paid for Quip — is still a lot of money in any company’s book, and it further entrenches Salesforce in the enterprise space at a time when so many things in the sector are in flux. Until now, Microsoft, with its Office suite — including Word, Outlook, Excel and PowerPoint — more or less owned the enterprise, or productivity, software market. But with the advent of the web and online software for enterprise, pioneered to some extent by Google Apps, not to mention Amazon Web Services, the market has moved from residing in desktop computers to living on servers somewhere out there on the Internet. Which means there are more opportunities for new companies, and the market has become much more competitive. A lot of businesses are still experimenting with platforms such as Google Apps, Microsoft Office, and even Apple iCloud, all of which are household names. While Salesforce is not quite a household name, it’s nonetheless a big name in the enterprise space, and the purchase of Quip will extend its connectivity and capability when it comes to collaborative, cloud-based productivity software. Analyst’s view — Clive Longbottom, Quocirca: “Salesforce continues to try and move beyond the CRM mantle. It has previously pushed its enterprise social media platform, Chatter, to a degree of success (but less than it hoped for). “Quip offers the capacity for Salesforce to be even more self-contained, with built in ‘living document’ creation — avoiding the need for Office or Office 365 integration. “However, this is also then heading toward the concept of the ‘cloud mainframe’, with as much functionality in one place as is possible. Will IT remember the problems and lack of flexibility that such monolithic approaches of the past brought with them? Or will the goldfish memory of many IT practitioners make it such that Salesforce plus Quip plus an integration of anything else on Force.com gives them the ‘one threat to choke’ when support is needed? “The reality is that roundtripping documents between companies is still a massive issue — and as Microsoft still pretty much owns the office software market, anything beyond basic documents is still seen as being best via Office.”

The recent furore over alleged irregular data sharing at Facebook has resulted in the social media giant losing a staggering $80 billion in total share value, according to CNN

The latest development is that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has agreed to testify in front of Congress about the company’s activities, particularly with regard to its relationship with Cambridge Analytica.

Cambridge Analytica is said to have data-mined tens of millions of Facebook users – albeit indirectly – in order to allegedly help the Republican Party’s political campaign which resulted in Donald Trump becoming the US president.

Now, Twitter is in the spotlight over its data licensing activities, and the company’s share value has fallen by almost 10 per cent, although the two issues may not be related.

According to investment news website SeekingAlpha.com, as Congress looks into social media, things may end badly for Twitter’s data licensing business.

Twitter is apparently pre-empting any criticism by arguing that it’s entire business model is based on almost everything being public.

“Twitter is public by its nature,” says the social network in a tweet. “Public Tweets are viewable and searchable by anyone. This is the power of Twitter.”

Elaborating on its policy, Twitter says that although most of it is public, sending things like marketing messages directly to people is not monetised.

“To be clear – our data licensing business does not sell DMs [direct messages],” says Twitter. “Any reports to the contrary are wrong.”

Twitter says it will wait to hear what Congress says about data sharing, and in the meantime, published a blog post in which it further elaborated on its policy.