ADOTAS – Chatting yesterday with Chris Davis, SVP of Global Sales of Gaia Online — a social gaming and networking site frequented by 8 million teens a month — he commented that his network had no notions whatsoever of competing with Facebook. More niche networks like Gaia and Meez have the advantage of attracting brands to their sites through creative engagement strategies targeted at a filtered audience.
With half a billion users, we agreed that Facebook had become something like a generic social network — everybody has a profile, everybody checks in a few times a day for a little while to get a feel of what’s going on and then everybody checks out. The most engaged people get on Facebook is through the gaming, which though operated through the site are developed by third parties. More and more “the social network” is resembling an Internet portal, long a dream of CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
So Facebook’s real competitor is Google, and certainly Google can feel Facebook breathing down its neck as of the 23 acquisitions it’s made this year (yesterday it scooped up schedule manager Plannr, which TechCrunch labeled “Outlook for hipsters”), the overwhelming trend among their capabilities is socialization. But with the non-launch of Google Buzz and the mishmash of rumors surrounding proposed social network Google Me, an old rallying cry has reappeared on the tech mediascape:
Dave McLure, founding partner of seed fund 500 Start-Ups, is the latest loud voice to propose Google acquire Twitter, telling The New York Times that Big G is “getting killed by Facebook.”
SAI’s Henry Blodget noted that McLure is stating the obvious: “How exactly Facebook might eventually threaten Google isn’t clear, but the possibility that it WILL threaten Google in some way increases every day.”
But why buy Twitter? What kind of lesson are we teaching Google if we keep telling it to buy its way out of its problems? Well, Blodget says, Google’s past lackluster social efforts have minimized the buzz (get it?) for Google Me and the only thing worth a dime in the social space (besides Facebook — Zuck must chuckle and grin every time he thinks about Google’s offer of $15 billion back in 2007) is Twitter, which is pretty hot right now after a smart makeover.
Blodget has been screaming for Google to buy Twitter for 18 months, and had to note that it would have been a lot cheaper — a mere $1 billion cash — if Google had taken his advice back then.
That would be April 2009, when the rumor mill exploded with speculation that Google was this close to purchasing the microblogger. But Twitter remains independent, though Google did add a Twitter timeline search earlier this year, which seems to be the equivalent of “Let’s stay friends.”
And CEO Eric Schmidt’s comments Tuesday at TechCrunch Disrupt aren’t likely to make anyone believe the Google-Twitter relationship has gone beyond platonic: “Twitter should be able to come up with advertising and monetization products that in our opinion are highly lucrative. We think they’re going to do very, very well.”
McLure indirectly asked Schmidt through the NYTimes, ““Is there a scenario where you think you don’t have to buy Twitter in the near future? I don’t see it.” However, Blodget doesn’t think Google has the brass to go through with an acquisition.
Whose side do you fall on? Will Google eventually buy Twitter? Does it need to?