By Liana B. Baker and Jessica Toonkel
(Reuters) – Twitter Inc has told potential acquirers it is seeking to conclude negotiations about selling itself by the time it reports third-quarter earnings on Oct. 27, according to people familiar with the matter.
The timeline is hugely ambitious in the context of most mergers and acquisitions, given that Twitter began mulling a sale only last month. It is the clearest sign yet that Chief Executive Jack Dorsey is pushing to provide clarity to shareholders and employees over the company’s future as quickly as possible.
Binding acquisition offers are due in the next two weeks, and Twitter has already whittled down the field of potential acquirers, the people said this week. Salesforce.com Inc is in the running, while Google parent Alphabet Inc, and Walt Disney Co have also been contemplating bids, the people added.
Recode reported on Wednesday, citing sources it did not identify, that Google would not move forward with a bid to acquire Twitter.
It is not certain the process will result in a sale, the Reuters sources cautioned. The sources asked not to be identified because the matter is confidential.
Twitter and Salesforce declined to comment. Disney and Google did not return requests for comment.
With Salesforce.com, Twitter might turn its focus to customer service communications and mining its database of tweets for business intelligence. Google would likely be most interested in the social and news dimensions of Twitter. Disney, by contrast, might see it as a way to expand the reach of its sports and entertainment programming.
Twitter has struggled to generate revenue growth and profit, despite having some 313 million average monthly active users and a growing presence as a source of news.
The company missed Wall Street’s sales expectations in both the first and second quarters of 2016, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine, and has yet to produce a net profit in 11 quarters as a public company.
It has also failed to keep pace with rivals, notably Facebook Inc’s Instagram and Snapchat. Both now boast more users than Twitter by most measures, even though they are much newer, and advertisers have begun to migrate their ad dollars accordingly.
Dorsey, who returned to Twitter as chief executive more than a year ago, has been part of Disney’s board since 2013.
Twitter went public in November 2013 at $26 a share. The shares peaked above $74 just over a month after its IPO, but have been on a steady downward trajectory since.
(Reporting by Liana B. Baker and Jessica Toonkel in New York; Additional reporting by Greg Roumeliotis in New York; Editing by Matthew Lewis and Andrew Hay)