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No Google-Twitter deal is planned, says Stone

Twitter co-founder says firm plans to remain independent, become profitable

By Juan Carlos Perez
April 3, 2009 12:00 PM ET

IDG News Service - Twitter Inc. co-founder Biz Stone today denied widespread rumors that its acquisition by Google Inc. is imminent.

The rumors erupted late Thursday when tech blog site TechCrunch, citing two anonymous sources, reported that the companies were engaged in "late stage negotiations." TechCrunch later tempered that report, saying that a third source characterized the discussions as "early stage" and possibly revolving around a search engine collaboration. Earlier today, The Wall Street Journal's All Things Digital tech blog, also quoting anonymous sources, said no acquisition discussions were on the table, but rather talks about collaboration on real-time search and better crawling of Twitter's content.

While Google declined to comment on the rumor, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone posted a note on the company's official blog saying the company's plans are to remain independent. "It should come as no surprise that Twitter engages in discussions with other companies regularly and on a variety of subjects," he wrote. "Our goal is to build a profitable, independent company and we're just getting started."

Stone also encouraged people to apply for jobs at the company, an interesting document to peruse for clues to Twitter's product plans and business and technology strategies.

Stone had appeared on Stephen Colbert's Colbert Nation television show on Thursday, and restated Twitter's intention to remain independent. "We're recognizing a difference right now between profit and value. Right now, we're building value," Stone told Colbert.

That means extending Twitter globally, tapping not only into Web-based users but also into mobile phone networks, as well as adding features and refining the service, Stone said. "When we get to a certain point where we feel we've gotten there, we'll begin experimenting with a revenue model. This isn't unlike the way Google approached their revenue model."

The revenue-model testing and experimentation will begin this year, but Twitter will take its time getting it right, Stone added.

While the acquisition rumors were apparently off base, it wouldn't be surprising to see the companies strike up a formal collaboration or partnership, analysts said. Twitter, a microblogging service used by millions of people to post brief text messages, has emerged as the custodian of a valuable online index of real-time facts, comments, musings and announcements, information that is clearly valuable for Google's search engine index.

Google routinely collaborates with major Web sites to determine the best way to crawl and index their content for its search engine, so sitting down with Twitter for that purpose would be consistent with its modus operandi.

"Twitter is clearly hot. The phenomenon of real-time search and the ability to capture this stream of 'tweet' discussions is an important development in social media and search because people are trying to mine data for information that might otherwise be sought in a search engine," said Greg Sterling, an analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence. "This whole phenomenon Twitter represents is here to stay and needs to be addressed by search engines."

Reprinted with permission from IDG.net. Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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