It's not as if Twitter (NYSE: TWTR) didn't try to sell itself already.
If there's one takeaway from last year's widely reported -- but ultimately unsuccessful -- efforts to sell itself, it's that there is considerable disagreement about what Twitter is worth. While I do think Twitter can survive, if not thrive, that doesn't mean that the prospects of an acquisition are likely after Twitter has seemingly already explored those prospects. Well, BTIG Research analyst Rich Greenfield still thinks that in the end, Twitter will get acquired.
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The case for Twitter getting acquired within two years
In a recent interview with Business Insider, Greenfield makes a case for an eventual Twitter acquisition. Greenfield points to recent improvements in daily active user (DAU) growth as a sign that Twitter is making gains in engagement. Many companies have trouble reinvigorating engagement after a period of stagnation, Greenfield points out, but Twitter is starting to show progress. The key, by Greenfield's estimation, is translating user growth into revenue growth, which Twitter is currently having trouble with. The analyst says he'd be "shocked" if Twitter was still a public company in two years, suggesting it will be acquired by then.
Twitter has carved out a niche for itself in real-time news, and Greenfield argues that Twitter has an impact on "anything that touches news and information right now." For the longest time, Twitter was unapproachable to mainstream consumers since it was relatively harder to use than competing social networks, but Twitter has made needed improvements to its core app, according to Greenfield.
It's worth pointing out that Greenfield is the same analyst that suggested Twitter may be worth investing in due to the Trump factor: Donald Trump's impulsive and seemingly uncontrollable use of the service could lead to increased engagement that Twitter has an opportunity to monetize. Unfortunately, that thesis hasn't played out thus far.
Twitter still needs to improve the platform before it can entertain serious offers
Twitter has undeniably made some gains in DAUs recently, but it's hard to really put those gains into context since Twitter still won't disclose DAUs in absolute terms; it only discloses DAU growth rates. If we're talking about growth off an extremely small base, then those gains are much less appealing to both advertisers and potential suitors.
Speaking of potential suitors, you can bet that any prospective acquirer that you can think of already considered the possibility last year, when Twitter was actively seeking a buyer, and still passed on the deal. Of these potential suitors, Disney is worth discussing in particular. The House of Mouse reportedly dropped its bid over concerns about Twitter's troll problem. Disney is a family friendly brand, which doesn't mix well with Twitter's reputation of being a solace for abusive voices. Twitter's response to its so-called "nazi egg" problem was to merely change the default avatar, which clearly fails to address the actual underlying problem.
None of this is to say that Twitter won't be acquired. Rather, in order to be acquired, Twitter needs to finally take real steps to addressing user feedback -- by taking a firmer stance against harassment and developing features like editable tweets -- before any suitor will make a serious offer.
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