It was somewhere around 2005 when I saw larger than life Billboards of Yahoo’s logo plastered all across my city. It’s weird I thought, why should a digital company require to spend so much money in the offline world? I had moved on from using Yahoo services (search, mail) barring Flickr, which was the only decent photo app at that time.
10 years later, we see that Yahoo hasn’t been able to keep up with the times. Both in terms of money, as well as innovation. All that, coupled with what now seems to be ineffective leadership has lead to a company that was once going to acquire Google to becoming one that doesn’t have many potential suitors to acquire it.
The problem with the digital space is nobody gets to stay on top forever and you can’t always sustain alone.
Google acquired YouTube.
LinkedIn acquired Slideshare.
Facebook acquired Whatsapp.
Microsoft acquired Skype.
Facebook acquired Instagram.
Microsoft acquired LinkedIn.
You wonder how that changed their fortunes? Now picture this.
What happened to Foursquare?
How many pictures are you pinning on Pinterest?
Remember the last time you used Vimeo?
Most apps that were fighting lone battles and hoping to make enough money via advertising alone have either faded into oblivion or gone bust. Sometimes a product can do good by itself, but much better with somebody else (and sometimes the other way round).
Build it if you can’t buy it. Sell it if you can’t scale it.
Which brings us to twitter. If you are one of those people who have been tracking the journey of this platform over the years, I may not even need to tell you what’s wrong with it. Abuse, automation, anger among many other factors have slowly made the platform toxic for use for many. The trending topics that were once full of harmless hashtags have been brand bulldozed. Timelines that used to have a lot of personal messages are today filled with automated tweets(including mine). Relationships that were once developed with strangers are increasingly being built with bots. Something is wrong with twitter, and all this is slowly deterring a lot of people and making them move away from twitter (A fact that many may debate), effectively leading to lesser ‘active users’ in comparision with platforms like Instagram and Snapchat that are fast taking over. Moreover, even many years later, twitter hasn’t become a money making machine for its team, which may not be an immediate cause of concern but isn’t a long term business model either.
Sometimes, money isn’t enough to keep a company alive and kicking, you need something stronger than that. If twitter could come under the wings of a bigger digital property, then even without making enough money, it could be a very valuable entity. Whether it’s Facebook, Google or some other surprise(like Microsoft for LinkedIn), a bigger company with larger goals could offer Twitter the much required support it needs to bring the house in order, while potentially taking away the trouble of wondering how to make money. In the digital space, you either grow big enough to compete with the giants or you slowly become obsolete as other platforms take over while you were still standing where you were.
Twitter is trying to fix its issues, twitter is trying to innovate, twitter is popular with a large section of the internet population, but one thing that twitter isn’t doing is becoming as big as the Googles and Facebooks of the world. Now it can either think of joining one of them, or slowly be forgotten like Foursquare.