Selling Twitter: which suitor should buy the social network?

Google, Salesforce and Verizon are all reportedly considering snapping up the social network

Twitter's stocks are up by a quarter today on news that Google or Salesforce are eyeing up the website, alongside reports that Verizon is also considering a bid.

Twitter has long been the subject of acquisition rumours - it's been playing down rumours it'll be snapped up by Google since at least 2009. Everyone from Apple to Facebook or even a private equity fund have all been mooted, alongside today's trio of bidders.

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Now might be a good time to buy Twitter: it's still relevant, it needs some guidance on everything from tackling trolls to making money, and its price is dampened by a host of woes.

That includes sort-of social network reporting that its user base fell for the first time at the end of last year, down to 305 million from 307 million, driving the stock price down 13% before rebounding. The company predicted a recovery, saying the two million users it lost were "not high-quality" - not the most flattering description, thank you very much Mr Dorsey - but either way, that's been surpassed by the user base of Instagram and daily use stats of Snapchat.

Numbers aren't everything, of course. Twitter continues to have a grip on public thought thanks to the media's adoration of it - what would we do if we couldn't source stories with a quick search of Twitter's feed? How would we know Trump's every stupid thought? Or find what random people think of the daily news?

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Plus, an acquisition could take the financial pressure off Twitter, giving it time to breathe and sort its growing pains, before coming back and grabbing more users.

Finding a buyer could save Twitter, but it needs to finding the right buyer. This is a much bigger decision than opening up DMs, algorithmic news feeds or discounting user names from the 140-character count. No, really guys.

If Google buys it, Twitter could be held largely separate like YouTube, which Google left to grow on its own - reports suggest it still makes barely any profit. On the other hand, it could become Google's new social network, popping the final bullet into Google+, perhaps all but disappearing into the Google machine as have many acquisitions before it.

However, being swallowed up by a bigger player can also add pressure, as Tumblr is well aware. The blogging site has consistently struggled to meet Yahoo CEO's grand ad sales plans, leading to the departure of a fair few staff.

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Google aside, Verizon is an interesting consideration, quickly becoming the pasture fading web platforms go to live out their retirement, after buying AOL and Yahoo. It can't be good for Twitter's brand to be slotted in alongside those glue-factory-bound properties, though.

Salesforce is an odd choice, as it's not clear what exactly a business software firm would do with such a web property. How strange is this idea? In a Recode ranking of potential suitors, neither Kurt Wagner or Kara Swisher could come up with a single reason why Salesforce would snap up Twitter, other than CEO MarcBenioff "is fun". Which, frankly, is as good a reason as any - and Salesforce made the list, after all.

Vala Afshar, Salesforce's chief digital evangelist, took to Twitter to evangelise why he thought an acquisition was a good idea, stressing it was nothing more than a personal view. He says Twitter is a "personal learning network", has "the best real-time, context rich news", can "democratise intelligence," and is a "great place to promote others". However, it's hard to see what most of that has to do with Salesforce, or indeed what half of it actually means.

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Perhaps the real reason Salesforce is considering a bid is it reportedly missed out on LinkedIn, the professional business network stolen away by Microsoft for $26 billion. Twitter may simply be its second choice. Sorry Twitter, that's gotta hurt.

Regardless of who buys Twitter, here's hoping someone manages a deal soon, before the site falls further into irrelevance - plus it's all a bit too meta to talk about Twitter being bought on Twitter. The social media black hole that could create may devour us all, so get on it, shoppers.

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