Twitter Inc has initiated discussions with several technology companies to explore putting itself up for sale, a person familiar with the matter said on Friday, signaling the start of what is likely to be a slow-rolling auction of the high-profile but profit-challenged social media company.
A sale of Twitter has been the subject of on-again, off-again rumors for many months as the company grapples with stagnant user growth, soft advertising sales and losses running at hundreds of millions of dollars a year.
The company’s business struggles have come even as the 10-year-old service has evolved into a potent global source of news, entertainment and social commentary.
CNBC, citing anonymous sources, reported on Friday that Twitter is in talks with companies including Google and may receive a formal bid soon. A source told Reuters that Salesforce.com is also in pursuit.
Twitter and Alphabet Inc, Google’s parent company did not respond to a request for comment. Salesforce declined to comment.
Verizon, another company mentioned in media reports on Friday as a possible suitor, said it did not comment on M&A rumors but that it had not submitted a bid for the company.
Twitter shares jumped more than 19 percent to $22.22 per share on Friday, marking the largest one-day rise since their first day of trading in 2013. The company now has a market value of around $16 billion.
Morningstar analyst Ali Mogharabi said Alphabet would be the best acquirer for Twitter since it has not yet been able to crack social media on its own despite several efforts.
“From a strategic standpoint, we think it would be more beneficial for Alphabet as opposed to Salesforce,” Mogharabi said. Former Google executive Omid Kordestani is executive chairman of Twitter.
Morningstar estimates Twitter could be bought for $22 per share. Twitter is working with investment banks Goldman Sachs and Allen & Co in considering possible transactions, sources familiar with the situation said.
Twitter Inc received an average of 243,000 viewers to Thursday’s National Football League livestream of the New York Jets triumph over the Buffalo Bills, the first time the social media platform has broadcast an NFL game.
The event drew mostly praise from Twitter users and media experts have said the NFL deal helps Twitter maintain its position as a venue for live video.
Still, the Twitter audience was only a fraction of the average of 15.7 million people watching across television and digital platforms, according to NFL data of the game, which the Jets won, 37-31.
Twitter’s arrangement with the NFL comes as sports fans increasingly rely on the internet to watch video at the expense of traditional cable and satellite connections.
The microblogging platform has struggled with user growth and advertising competition, and livestreaming the games gives it a new avenue to attract users as it tries to catch up with rivals such as Facebook Inc.
Anheuser-Busch InBev SA Ford Motor Co, Bank of America Corp and Verizon Communications were among the brands that ran video ads during the game’s livestream.
The deal with the NFL has the potential to reignite brands’ interest in working more with Twitter after it has had a bumpy ride over the past several months, said Victor Pineiro, senior vice president, social media at Big Spaceship, a Brooklyn, New York-based digital ad agency.
“We still see a big role for it,” he said.
For example, there is an opportunity for brands to be part of the conversation around the games through sponsored tweets and other means, said Edithann Ramey, vice president, marketing for Chili’s Grill and Bar, a Dallas-based restaurant chain.
“It’s very intriguing to us in terms of the number of impression they bring and ways we can jump in and be part of the conversation,” Ramey said.
witter is the second tech company to livestream an NFL game. In October, Yahoo Inc livestreamed a game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Buffalo Bills in London, which attracted an average of 2.36 million viewers, versus the 243,000 in the Twitter game.
About 15.2 million viewers watched at least part of the game on Yahoo, while a total of 2.3 million people tuned into Thursday’s game or pregame show on Twitter for at least three seconds, according to the NFL.
The Yahoo game, however, was not broadcast on U.S. TV nationwide and in some cases, the stream automatically started playing on Yahoo websites.
Twitter Inc rolled out a new video streaming application for Apple Inc and Amazon.com Inc TV platforms, as well as Microsoft Corp’s Xbox One gaming console as it brings its video content to the forefront.
The application will also be available for users of these devices without a Twitter account or a pay-TV subscription, the company said.
The application will feature video content from a number of Twitter’s partners, including the National Football League and the National Basketball Association, as well as curated tweets and shorter video from its Vine and Periscope services.
The news comes a day ahead of the first of the 10 NFL Thursday night games that Twitter obtained streaming rights for in April.
Jack Dorsey-led Twitter has made a significant push into video, signing deals with several media companies and sports organizations to stream major events.
Reports emerged in June that Twitter was looking to expand its character limit – maybe even giving users a 10,000-character limit. But while a change may be in the offing, it doesn’t look to be nearly that dramatic.
According to The Verge, Twitter will make a change to its character limit on Sept. 19.
The company will not exactly expand the number of characters it allows, but will stop counting some things, like images, GIFs and videos, against the limit. Twitter may also stop counting user names at the beginning of replies.
Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
For Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research, the change would be a good thing.
“It’s certainly a small difference, but I know I appreciate it,” he said. “I like the discipline of the character limit, but I don’t like having to try and fit in names and links.”
However, Gottheil wouldn’t want to see Twitter do away with the limit all together.
“Sometimes you want more room, but that would happen with any limit, and not having a limit would make it a totally different experience,” he said. “So you live with 140, but it’s nice that it will be 140 for what you write, not 140 less things like names. It will also encourage you to include more names, which should add to the community feel.”
Patrick Moorhead, an analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy, said such a shift by Twitter could lead to more.
“Users want more room to tweet when they’ve added something like a picture or video,” he added. “This could be the start of something they could build momentum around…. Recently, Twitter has been taking more steps backwards than forward. Twitter isn’t growing, and in social media if you’re not growing, you’re shrinking. To make progress, they need momentum to move them forward and this move could be a start.”
Two years after rolling out the Apple Watch with apps and styles that courted every customer, Apple Inc has honed its marketing strategy, debuting a second generation product aimed squarely at the health and athletic audience.
The focus on fitness will enhance the watch’s appeal to its core audience but also cements its status as a niche device, analysts said.
“Apple is responding to what has resonated with customers,” said analyst Jan Dawson of Jackdaw Research. “The problem is there are only so many people who want to wear a health and fitness device. If they want this to be really massive, they’re going to have to go broader.”
The first new device released under Chief Executive Tim Cook, the Apple Watch has not attracted a mass audience, selling 1.6 million units in the second quarter, down more than half from a year ago, in the run-up to the new version, IDC data showed.
Apple’s original pitch touted the ability to send doodles, make phone calls and track fitness, while the company described it as essentially a fashion accessory.
But at a San Francisco launch event on Wednesday, where the iPhone 7 also debuted, Apple Watch videos, advertisements and demos focused narrowly on features for health enthusiasts, with the notable exception of a Pokemon Go app.
The new Watch starts at $369, includes a GPS chip, and is waterproof. Apple designed a special edition with sports giant Nike Inc.
Exercise buffs on social media cheered the new features, particularly the internal GPS system designed for runners who want to track workouts without dragging along their phones.
“At last Apple Watch is something I can use as a runner,” Ian Bignell (@eyan_b) wrote on Twitter.
Still, the device is likely to remain a niche offering, said Colin Gillis, an analyst with BGC Partners.
“It’s becoming a more interesting product, but it is not going to be able to meaningfully impact the bottom line if iPhones slow down,” Gillis said.
Twitter, Facebook Inc, Snapchat and YouTube are all competing to keep or recruit top video talent as they seek to cash in on the wave of televison-style advertising that has been moving to the internet.
Twitter already offers revenue sharing to media and entertainment companies such as CBS Corp and the National Football League which post videos through its Amplify Publisher Program. That option will now be open to any Twitter user, Twitter said in a blog post.
YouTube has long offered its video stars a cut of revenue. Facebook, for its part, has ramped up its Live video product in recent months and paid a relatively small number of media companies and celebrities to generate video.
Facebook said it is testing ways to “create a sustainable, long-term monetization model for live video that includes new and different ways of sharing revenue with some partners.”
Instagram and Snapchat also rely heavily on celebrities, who often have millions of followers, to encourage user engagement and growth by posting personal photos and videos.
Twitter’s new program will offer video creators a 70 percent share of revenue. YouTube, which is owned by Alphabet Inc’s Google, shares 55 percent of the ad revenue with content creators.
Twitter said individual users would also be allowed to share their videos on other platforms.
Under Chief Executive Jack Dorsey, the company has made a significant push into video, signing deals with several media companies and sports organizations to stream major events.
Twitter users aren’t the only ones getting updates from the micro-blogging social media site. One maker of Android malware is also using Twitter to communicate with infected smartphones, according to security firm ESET.
The company uncovered the feature in a malicious app called Android/Twitoor. It runs as a backdoor virus that can secretly install other malware on a phone.
Typically, the makers of Android malware control their infected smartphones from servers. Commands sent from those servers can create a botnet of compromised phones and tell the malware on all the phones what to do.
The makers of Android/Twitoor decided to use Twitter instead of servers to communicate with the infected phones. The malware routinely checks certain Twitter accounts and reads the encrypted posts to get its operating commands.
Lukas Stefanko, an ESET researcher, said in a blog post that this was an innovative approach. It removes the need to maintain a command and control server, and the communications with the Twitter accounts can be hard to discover.
“It’s extremely easy for the crooks to re-direct communications to another freshly created account,” he said.
ESET said this was first Twitter-controlled Android botnet it had ever found. Windows-based botnets using Twitter have been around since at least 2009.
ESET said Android/Twitoor hasn’t been detected in any app stores, so it probably spreads through malicious links sent to the victim. The malware pretends to be a porn player or multimedia messaging app, and it’s only been active for about a month.
So far, Android/Twitoor has been found downloading versions of mobile banking malware to users’ phones.
“In the future, we can expect that the bad guys will try to make use of Facebook statuses or deploy LinkedIn and other social networks,” Stefanko added.
The report said that the share of attacks from Linux botnets almost doubled (to 70 per cent) – and Linux bots are the most effective tool for the SYN-DDoS attack method. This is the first time that Kaspersky DDoS Intelligence has registered such an imbalance between the activities of Linux- and Windows-based DDoS bots.
SYN DDoS is one of the most common attack scenarios, but the proportion of attacks using the SYN DDoS method increased 1.4 times compared to the previous quarter and accounted for 76 per cent.
Oleg Kupreev, lead malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab said that it is Linux which is to blame.
“Linux servers often contain common vulnerabilities but no protection from a reliable security solution, making them prone to bot infections”, says. “These factors make them a convenient tool for botnet owners. Attacks carried out by Linux-based bots are simple but effective; they can last for weeks, while the owner of the server has no idea it is the source of an attack. Moreover, by using a single server, cybercriminals can carry out an attack equal in strength to hundreds of individual computers. That’s why companies need to be prepared in advance for such a scenario, ensuring reliable protection against DDoS attacks of any complexity and duration”.
Brazil, Italy and Israel all appeared among the leading countries hosting botnet Command and Control (C&C) servers. South Korea is the clear leader in terms of the number of C&C servers located on its territory, with its share amounting to 70 per cent. Brazil, Italy and Israel saw the amount of active C&C servers hosted in these countries nearly triple.
DDoS attacks affected resources in 70 countries over the report period, with targets in China suffering the most (77 per cent of all attacks). Germany and Canada both dropped out of the top 10 rating of most targeted countries, to be replaced by France and the Netherlands.
The report also identifies an increase in the duration of DDoS attacks. While the proportion of attacks that lasted up to four hours fell from 68 per cent in Q1 to 60 percent in Q2, the proportion of longer attacks grew considerably – those lasting 20-49 hours accounted for nine per cent (and those lasting 50-99 hours accounted for four per cent (one per cent in Q1).
The longest DDoS attack in Q2 2016 lasted 291 hours (12 days), an increase on the Q1 maximum of eight days.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology is recommending changes be made. The latest draft of its Digital Authentication Guideline, updated on Monday, warns that SMS messages can be intercepted or redirected, making them vulnerable to hacking.
Many companies, including Twitter, Facebook and Google, as well as banks, already use the phone-based text messaging to add an extra layer of security to user accounts.
It works like this: To access the accounts, the user not only needs the password, but also a secret code sent by the company by text message. Ideally, these one-time passcodes are sent to a designated phone number to ensure no one else will read them.
But even so, hackers have still found ways to trick the system. In the past, they’ve used malware to infect smartphones, and secretly redirect the SMS messages to another device.
Others have chosen to impersonate their victims. This can allow the hacker to call up the phone company and ask them to reroute the SMS text messages to another phone number.
NIST also suggested that phone numbers connected to software-based services, including VoIP, could be vulnerable to hacking, putting the SMS messages at risk of being read.
The microblogging service operator’s shares fell 11 percent in extended trading to $16.40. While Twitter struggles to find a way to boost user growth and win over advertisers, social media services such as Instagram and Snapchat are expanding their footprints.
Co-founder Jack Dorsey returned to the company as chief executive a year ago, but his plan for reviving Twitter is at best seen as unfinished.
The company’s second quarter revenue missed Wall Street estimates and the revenue forecast for the current quarter of $590 million to $610 million was well below the average analyst estimate of $678.18 million.
Twitter’s user base increased about 1 percent to 313 million average monthly active users in the second quarter from 310 million in the first quarter.
“Clearly, the turnaround is still a work in progress and the question of whether being a platform for a mass audience versus a niche audience needs to be answered,” said James Cakmak, analyst at Monness, Crespi, Hardt & Co.
Earlier this year, Twitter laid out a long-term strategy to turn around its business, focusing on five areas: its core service, live-streaming video, the site’s “creators and influencers,” safety and developers.
In live video, the company has signed deals with Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association to revive user growth and attract more advertising dollars. Executives also said Twitter was investing more in user safety as the company continues to grapple with high-profile instances of abuse and harassment.
Struggling with flat user growth and lower spending by advertisers, Twitter has doubled down on attracting more people and encouraging existing advertisers to spend more as it tries to shape its stagnating business.
“We are a year into Dorsey coming back and there is really no end in sight of when it is going to start picking up to where investors are going to be happy,” said Patrick Moorhead, analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy.
Twitter is also working to better define its role in the social media landscape. This week it rolled out a video ad that showed it as the place to go for live news, updates and discussion about current events, which executives also emphasized on a call with analysts.
Twitter Inc is holding negotiations with the NBA, Major League Soccer and Time Warner Inc’s cable network Turner Broadcasting to purchase digital streaming rights for content related to major sports and events, Recode reported.
This content could either be actual game footage or live interviews and analysis, the technology news website reported, citing people familiar with the talks.
Twitter shares rose 3.5 percent to $17.97 in late morning trading on Friday.
The report comes two months after the microblogging service provider struck a deal with the NFL to stream some of its Thursday Night Football games this fall. Twitter also streamed pre- and post-game content around Wimbledon this week.
Streaming the games live will give the company a new avenue to attract users and better compete with rival social network operators including Facebook Inc, which has over a billion users.
Twitter is looking to compete even more with Facebook. The platform is moving into video in a major way with 140-second clips in both Twitter proper and Vine, a new video section called Watch Mode, and video recommendations for other videos to watch. The network’s most popular users, like President Barack Obama and Justin Bieber, are getting a stand-alone app called Engage, which sounds a lot like Facebook Mentions.
Twitter is making video a huge priority by extending video length from 30 seconds to 140 seconds (staying on-brand, of course). Those longer videos are also coming to Vine, but don’t worry, the popular app for creating hilarious video loops isn’t changing its 6-second limit. Instead, you can post 140-second clips alongside your Vines.
You won’t have to watch these longer videos in-tweet. Now tapping on a video in your timeline will launch a new full-screen viewing mode with recommended clips surfaced just below. The same experience applies to longer videos on Vine.
The new features are rolling out soon on Twitter for iOS and Android.
Twitter Engage launched Tuesday on iOS to help video creators and other important people see metrics on their clips, including likes, retweets, mentions, and views. They can also see demographics for their videos and a feed of what their fans are talking about.
Unlike Facebook Mentions, Engage isn’t solely aimed at celebrities. But the two apps are similar in that they show mentions from so-called “influencers” and filter comments from fans.
Twitter has to try new things, especially since its user growth has stalled at 310 million monthly active users and Wall Street isn’t happy about it. To compare, Instagram just announced it has more than 500 million monthly active users, 300 million of whom check the app on a daily basis.
Twitter has been quite vocal regarding its interest in machine learning in recent years, and earlier this week the company put its money where its mouth is once again by purchasing London startup Magic Pony Technology, which has focused on visual processing.
“Magic Pony’s technology — based on research by the team to create algorithms that can understand the features of imagery — will be used to enhance our strength in live [streaming] and video and opens up a whole lot of exciting creative possibilities for Twitter,” Twitter cofounder and CEO Jack Dorsey wrote in a blog post announcing the news.
The startup’s team includes 11 Ph.Ds with expertise across computer vision, machine learning, high-performance computing and computational neuroscience, Dorsey said. They’ll join Twitter’s Cortex group, made up of engineers, data scientists and machine-learning researchers.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The acquisition follows several related purchases by the social media giant, including Madbits in 2014 and Whetlab last year.
Twitter confirmed the investment, but did not provide any financial details.
“Earlier this year we made an investment in SoundCloud through Twitter Ventures to help support some of our efforts with creators,” Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey said.
Soundcloud, a platform that enables people to upload and share music and other audio files, also confirmed that Twitter had made the investment.
Twitter’s investment was part of a funding round expected to be in the range of $100 million, which would value SoundCloud at about $700 million, the Re/code report said.
The microblogging site has previously attempted to make a foray into music with the launch of Twitter Music in 2013, which was closed a year later. At the time, the company said that it would look for new ways to bring music based content to the service.
The company said the information was not obtained from a hack of its servers, and speculated that the information may have been gathered from other recent breaches, malware on victim machines that are stealing passwords for all sites, or a combination of both.
“In each of the recent password disclosures, we cross-checked the data with our records. As a result, a number of Twitter accounts were identified for extra protection. Accounts with direct password exposure were locked and require a password reset by the account owner,” Twitter’s Trust & Information Security Officer, Michael Coates said in a blog post.
Millions of users have been notified by Twitter that their accounts are at risk of being taken over, reported the Wall Street Journal on Thursday. The company did not specify to the newspaper how many users were notified and forced to change their passwords but said that the total is in the millions.
Hacked information database LeakedSource revealed on Wednesday that it had acquired a database of 32.8 million records containing Twitter usernames, emails and passwords from a user who goes by the alias Tessa88@exploit.im., but there were questions from some experts as to the authenticity of the data.
The same user provided LeakedSource with names and passwords of alleged users of MySpace.com and VK.com.
“We have very strong evidence that Twitter was not hacked, rather the consumer was,” LeakedSource said. It pointed out that the passwords were in plain text with no encryption or hashing. Twitter said it used a password hashing function called bcrypt. The credentials are “real and valid” as out of 15 users asked, all 15 verified their passwords, LeakedSource said.