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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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.

Go deeper

Nov 17, 2020 - Technology

Facebook and Twitter CEOs to defend their firms at Senate hearing

Photo: Michael Reynolds/Pool via Getty Images

At a Senate hearing Tuesday morning, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter's Jack Dorsey will stress their companies' work to limit online misinformation and will endorse updating tech's prized liability shield as long as Congress doesn't blow it up.

Why it matters: Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects online platforms from lawsuits over moderation calls and user-posted content, and many policymakers view amending or even eliminating the law as their best lever to change how companies govern online speech.

Nov 17, 2020 - Economy & Business

Exclusive: Outbrain leaders launch newsletter curation app Listory

Listory

Listory, a newsletter curation app created within the content recommendation company Outbrain, is launching this week, executives tell Axios.

Why it matters: As the newsletter craze expands, it makes sense that entrepreneurs are looking for ways to help users streamline their inboxes.

Georgia governor declines Trump's request to overturn election result

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp pushed back on Saturday after President Trump pressed him to help overturn the state's election results.

Driving the news: Trump asked the Republican governor over the phone Saturday to call a special legislative session aimed at overturning the presidential election results in Georgia, per the Washington Post. Kemp refused.