Google in talks to buy Twitter? Reports conflict

After TechCrunch reports that Google is in "late stage" discussions to acquire the microblogging service, All Things Digital's Kara Swisher says she has the real story.

Updated at 6:32 a.m. PDT Friday with All Things D's denial and Google's no-comment, at 7:10 a.m. PDT with further TechCrunch information, and 9:10 a.m. with Twitter comment.

Google is in "late stage" talks to acquire microblogging service Twitter, according to a report on Thursday on TechCrunch citing two unnamed sources.

All Things Digital's Kara Swisher, however, on Friday said the report isn't true, also citing unnamed sources and saying the companies have only been in product-related discussions. And a TechCrunch update backpedaled a bit, citing another source who said acquisition talks were at a "fairly early stage."

Google declined to comment, but Twitter co-founder Biz Stone posted a statement on his blog Friday that neither confirmed the talks nor ruled them out.

"It should come as no surprise that Twitter engages in discussions with other companies regularly and on a variety of subjects," Stone said. "Our goal is to build a profitable, independent company and we're just getting started." The 30-employee company is hiring, he added.

Twitter lets people post short, 140-character messages; people often subscribe to follow the stream of these tweets from acquaintances and, increasingly, companies and celebrities . After an unpleasant rocky period in which the company's servers frequently were crushed under the strain of the service, Twitter has experienced tremendous growth .

Google's origins, core technology, and profits come from search, but Twitter would fit in neatly with the company's somewhat lackluster attempt to become more of a social hub too. Facebook, which attempted to acquire Twitter in 2008 , is the exemplar of just how rich a medium the Internet can become for social interactions. Social sites, though, have had a hard time showing they can mean revenue and profits as well.

Twitter isn't just about sharing with friends, though. It's increasingly about search as well. Twitter has been working to elevate the prominence of search , which can give a near-real-time window into what's on the mind of innumerable users.

And Google knows well how to treat new sources of information as signals that weigh into search results. The company has been gradually blending into its search results data from sources such as blogs and news stories that reflect new information arriving on the Web.

Plenty of people search for relatively timeless information, but plane crashes, earthquakes, election results, and other events are popular search subjects, too, and Google constantly strives to better match its results with what people are actually seeking.

About the author

Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and covers browsers, Web development, digital photography and new technology. In the past he has been CNET's beat reporter for Google, Yahoo, Linux, open-source software, servers and supercomputers. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces.

 

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