Jack Dorsey, the billionaire co-founder and CEO of Twitter, has been mired in controversies lately. In July 2020, the social media giant faced its biggest cyber-attack; later in November, Dorsey narrowly avoided being ousted for the second time after signing a cease-fire agreement with Elliott Management, and at the beginning of 2021, he came under intense scrutiny after Twitter banned the former President of the United States. Ever since he took over as Twitter’s CEO in 2015, investors have called for his removal, citing concerns over his role as the CEO of another billion-dollar company- Square, a financial services and digital payments company that Dorsey co-founded in 2009. Unlike its peers, the social media giant’s performance has been lacklustre, with its stock price only recently breaching the $40 (USD) threshold since its listing 8 years ago, whereas Facebook’s share price has increased by more than 1000% since its listing.
Compared to Facebook’s 1.85 billion daily active users (DAU), Twitter’s 192 million is a drop in the bucket. Similarly, Twitter’s $40 billion (USD) market cap is nowhere near Facebook’s $864 billion (USD). But the social media giant’s recent acquisition of newsletter platform- Revue and the distraction free-reading service- Scroll are seen as steps in the right direction.
Add to Cart is a unique series that analyses the acquisitions of some of the largest and most well-known companies across the world. In this edition of the series, we’ll be analyzing the acquisitions of Twitter.
The analysis is based on data from Crunchbase. The startups have been classified according to various industries based on data from Pitchbook, and the sector classification is based on Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS). The sector classification is subjective and has been made considering the sector/industry that the startups closely resemble.
A total of 58 startups have been considered for this analysis, and this is by no means an exhaustive list of all the startups that Twitter has acquired over the years. Out of the 58 startups, the following data was available- acquisition price (USD) for 11 and total funding raised (USD) for 30.
Compared to Apple and Facebook, Twitter has made a lesser number of acquisitions and going by the disclosed acquisition price, has spent less money on them. But similar to its Big Tech peers, the social media giant has focused on acquiring startups in the information technology and communication services sector.
Of the disclosed acquisition price, 77% has gone towards acquiring startups in the communication services sector. The sector ranks second in terms of the number of startups, and the startups in this sector had a median age (at the time of acquisition) of 3 years.
Newsletter platform Revue is the most recent acquisition in this sector. Founded in 2015, the startup provides an editorial newsletter tool designed to build a direct relationship with the readers and enables users to send a weekly email newsletter to their subscribers. Prior to its acquisition, the startup raised close to $480K (USD) in an angel round in Dec 2016. Ueno. is a digital design agency based in California, USA. The startup, which specializes in designing and building beautiful products, experiences and brands, was acquired by Twitter in Jan 2021. Breaker is a podcast listening application that lets users listen to favourite shows and offers a whole host of features like sleep timer, customized playlist and speed control. Founded in 2016, Squad was an online platform that allowed users to hang out with friends and share their screens. Until its acquisition, the startup raised $7.1 million (USD) and was backed by prominent investors such as Y Combinator and First Round Capital.
The information technology sector is ranked first in terms of the number of startups accounting for more than 50% of the total. Startups in this sector had a median age of 2 years at the time of acquisition. Scroll, which was acquired by Twitter in the first week of this month, is an ad-blocking platform that allows users to block ads on sites. The startup has raised $10 million (USD) to date and was backed by The New York Times, Samsung Next and Union Square Ventures, to name a few. Reshuffle is a coding platform that brings agility to demanding applications like bidding and trading systems and gaming. Twitter acquired the startup in March 2021. Aiden.ai is a UK-based AI analytics platform that assists marketers in spending their budget efficiently. The startup uses machine learning to analyze large sets of paid advertising data, resulting in improved ROI on advertising campaigns. Twitter acquired the startup in November 2019.
Overall, the social media giant has acquired 58 startups with a total disclosed acquisition price of $1.74 billion (USD). Unlike Facebook, the startup has not ventured out into many countries looking to acquire startups but has instead chosen to concentrate on a handful of countries, with the US leading the pack. Twitter made the highest number of acquisitions between 2010 and 2015, which accounted for 69% of the total.
Twitter’s recently released first-quarter earnings show a glimmer of hope for the company; the company made $1.04 billion (USD) in revenue, up 28% y-o-y and netted $68 million (USD) in profits. The updated ad formats, new brand safety controls and improved measurements have contributed to 32% y-o-y growth in ad revenue. With Elliott Management and Silver Lake joining the board committee, it will be interesting to see where Twitter is headed with or without Dorsey at the helm.
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