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Google buying Twitter an 'instant fit,' investor Sacca says
[NEW YORK] Longtime Twitter Inc investor Chris Sacca said it would be a good fit with Google Inc. in a merger scenario, even as he pushed for the company to improve its products and services to lure more users and advertisers.
"I think it would be a fantastic use of Google's cash," Mr Sacca said on CNBC Wednesday, when he was asked whether Twitter should remain independent. "It's an instant fit. This is the thing that Google never had. They've never understood social, have never understood those personal interactions. This bolts in quite clearly."
Mr Sacca's comments follow his 8,500-word blog post on Wednesday calling on Twitter to broaden its appeal with new products to highlight the company's content around live events and popular discussions. If Twitter follows suggestions like his, he said the company has a better chance of remaining independent. If not, he said Google, Microsoft Corp or Facebook Inc should make bids for San Francisco-based Twitter.
"I believe Twitter can be so much more than it is today," said Mr Sacca, who invests through his firm, Lowercase Capital LLC.
Sacca, known for being Twitter's biggest cheerleader, has begun publicly criticizing the company for not taking advantage of its strengths. Still, the missive from an influential early investor adds to the burden facing Chief Executive Officer Dick Costolo, who has struggled to boost Twitter's users, even after replacing managers of its product and engineering teams. Twitter's member base was 302 million monthly users in the first quarter - about a fifth of Facebook's audience.
Jim Prosser, a spokesman for Twitter, and Winnie King, a spokesman for Mountain View, California-based Google, didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.
Twitter is also holding its annual shareholders meeting today.
Twitter should take bigger risks, Mr Sacca said. He pointed out that almost 1 billion people who have used Twitter didn't stick with it. He predicted that some big changes - such as apps that would organise posts by topic as opposed to chronologically, or prompts that help users decide what to post - would bolster Twitter's appeal.
Twitter, which lets users post 140-character updates with photos or video, has "failed to tell its own story to investors and users," Mr Sacca said. The stock has dropped 28 per cent since late April, when the company cut its sales forecast and reported revenue that fell short of analysts' estimates, prompting some of them to raise concerns about management's credibility and assessment of advertiser and consumer demand.
While the stock is up more than 40 per cent since a November 2013 initial public offering, it's about half of the peak set in December of that year. The shares of Twitter rose 1.7 per cent to US$37 at Wednesday's close in New York.
"The transition to being public has been rough," Mr Sacca wrote. "The company has disappointed Wall Street more often than not. Twitter's earnings calls are mostly dedicated to playing defense while discussing incremental improvements to sign-up flows and tweaks to the service." Twitter has the potential to reach 500 million users, Mr Sacca said in his previous blog post last month. Mr Sacca, a former adviser to the company, also said then that he hadn't been "as candid as I could be in public discussions about Twitter."
Mr Sacca also suggested today that Twitter make its service easier to use by building a separate application or service that would curate content, with the help of human editors, focused on particular live events. It would "be the place everyone visits first to see how the game is going or when the show starts," without requiring people to log in or Tweet.
He also suggested channels within the application that could be destinations for information about particular locations or popular topics. Other organisations, such as the National Basketball Association, could build separate applications that display Twitter posts, he said.
Mr Sacca wants Twitter to feel less lonely, and suggests adds like "hearts" and read receipts on tweets.
"Done right, and done soon, hundreds of millions of new users will join and stay active on the service, hundreds of millions of inactive users will return to the service, and hundreds millions more will use Twitter from the outside," Mr Sacca wrote.