Twitter jumps into the fray for TikTok
Twitter is the latest to join the cast of the ongoing spectacle that is TikTok’s battle to stay open for business in the U.S., per a new report from the Wall Street Journal.
Why it matters: The saga to keep TikTok available to U.S. users is getting more complicated, with the company already in a President Trump-imposed time crunch and juggling a number of options.
Between the lines: Twitter’s interest is a tacit admission that it shouldn’t have failed Vine, a short video app it acquired that’s widely seen as TikTok’s precursor. Twitter shut down the app in early 2017.
- Like other tech companies, Twitter has acquired a number of startups over the years, at times to gain their products and tech while others to gobble up talented employees.
The state of play: Here’s a look at Twitter’s product-focused acquisitions...
- Vine: Acquired in 2012, the app for making 7-second looping videos exploded in popularity and created a generation of video stars who made entertaining videos with nothing more than a smartphone. However, as the company failed to figure out how to help these users monetize their popularity, they fled to other services, and Twitter shuttered the app in 2017.
- We Are Hunted: Twitter quietly acquired the startup in 2012 and repurposed it into a music discovery app it released the following spring. Despite the continued popularity of music artists on Twitter’s main service, the company shut down the separate app in early 2014.
- Periscope: Acquired in early 2015 before it had even debuted its service, Periscope became Twitter’s answer to live video-streaming app Meerkat, which had exploded in popularity during SXSW. Though the app is still available, it’s not longer as popular and its leadership has moved onto higher-profile jobs within Twitter.
- TweetDeck: Three years after its founding, Twitter acquired the beloved user dashboard. Today it’s still available, though some power users have been grumpy about various changes over the years.
Yes, but: Twitter is now a 14-year-old public company that’s hopefully learned from its mistakes — and TikTok is already a well-formed product that Twitter wouldn’t have to build from near-scratch. (Twitter declined to comment on the reports of talks with TikTok.)
- On the other hand, it’s also unclear how plausible the transaction would be — Twitter’s own market cap is at about $30 billion, with around $7.8 billion in cash and short-term investments as of June.
- The price tag for TikTok could be as high as $30 billion, per media reports.
The bottom line: TikTok has until Sept. 15 to broker a deal — per President Trump — so the clock is ticking.