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Should Linden Lab Buy Twitter?


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Microsoft bought Skype. Linkedin floated at US$3.5 billion (14x revenue) and is currently valued at about US$8 billion (30x revenue, which will likely fall back to 25x). Linden Lab and Twitter both have forward revenues of about US$150 million, valuing them each at, say, US$3.5 billion - presuming rapid growth.

Linden Lab and Twitter both face a problem re growth. Second Life is stalled while Twitter has not yet formulated a solid business model. Combining the two companies could solve both their problems.

Because the market is hot right now, both LL and Twitter are attractive in spite of their current growth limitations. BUT, the fact that both are weak on their own creates an amazing buying opportunity. The cheese may be a bit bland and the cracker a bit salty, but put them together and you have a taste sensation. Linden Lab, with its strong business model and consistent revenues over nearly a decade of operations, has the muscle to buy Twitter. Combined, a valuation of US$5 billion (25x) is quite reasonable. In other words, Linden Lab could get Twitter at a good price - even it it has to pay a premium for current market hype.

Buying Twitter would give LL a foot in both worlds (VR and RL), providing it not only with a broadcast system, but giving it a feeder system into SL. It would enable residents to belong to both words, mixing and matching as they see fit, without a threat to privacy (the Achilles Heel of Facebook).

Let me make two points before posting: 1) this is not Time-Warner and 2) leave Facebook out of it. This is about LL and Twitter only - as cheese and cracker. This is the play LL should have made instead of Avatars United - and this play is still available - but LL must act quickly. If revenues are actually stalled at US$100 million, it will be Twitter buying LL.

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Irene Muni wrote:

LL buying Twitter? Why do you want to sink Twitter?
:)

why not?

 

mind you that I'm implicitly agreeing that a twitter buy would kill twitter... not based on association, but rather on LL's track record for buys and competion.... GOM (killed by lindex and broken promises), (SLexchange/xstreet and SLBoutique/onRez bought out and crushed into SL Marketplace), Avatars United (bought out and gutted to be the basis of web profiles).... it wouldn't look good for twitters future....

but LL has also not been in the position to buy up anything as largeas twitter, as you'll note, all their buyouts have always been smaller and largely populated by or spawned directly from SL.... even trying to scoop up twitter would fiscal attempted suicide... neither service adds direct value to the others, although ways to leverage twitter use withing SL have been of the rise, they're still largely coincidental, and not at all integral to either.

not only that but the stalled user base in both is more likely to be seen as a risk multiplied rather than a golden opportunity... and while twitter may be more acceptable to the SL user base, I'm not sure the reverse is true to any large degree... the enhancement seen from putting the two together is likely to mimimal and transitory and only look good on paper.

maybe there's gold in that hill and maybe there isn't, but even if there is, it'd hell to try to mine it.

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Yes, I thought of that, which is why an even bigger play would be for someone to buy both companies, merge and restructure. Taps a pencil against her teeth...thinking...what would it take? Floating might raise US$3 billion apiece. That's probably what the VCs would want to open negotiations. Say another US$3 billion cushion, so US$10 billion with a revenue stream of US$300 million = 33x. Bingo.

Pricy? Not really. That's the price to get into the game, so what about the future. The fail-safe exit strategy is flotation in a hot market with a three-year window. That's the short term covered. The big question is whether the combined company has the vision, courage and skill to rebuild the technological infrastructure of Second Life and reestablish it as a premier virtual economy. That will take cajones, but, and here is the beauty of it: instead of dumbing down Second Life to reach the Twitter crowd, use Twitter to pull people up to Second Life. An integrated strategy with bright management could make it work. In five years, one has a killer company on the leading edge of the social network industry. Not only that, but it's a nice end-run around Facebook.



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What an amazing prospect.

I originally detested the thought of even looking at twitter, but now I thoroughly enjoy it and it more or less goes hand in hand with SL for me. (and many many others). A single tweet can arrange a gathering in minutes. I will not have formal links between the two as I never allow any one company to force themselves upon me in that way.

I do believe a merging of the two would be a premier tactic for the future and yes, would put the combination of companies at the cutting edge of social networking. It could be called "LLitter" lololol


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Great dragon Deltango! :matte-motes-grin:

While we temporarily had Avatars United (which Linden Lab promptly torpedoed) I enjoyed the SLblips thing where you could have SL snapshots autoposted to Avatars United. With the aquisition of Twitter, Linden Lab could have services running like this again where we could tweet our snapshots from inworld.

Of course, purchasing Twitter would be about the most expensive way possible to reaquire features they already possessed :matte-motes-silly:

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Linden Lab doesn't have the capital to purchase Twitter and would never be able to raise the capital to do so.  That in turn provides the obvious answer that it should not buy Twitter since it would never be able to provide a business plan that would appeal to its current VC investors or any new VC investors to raise the funds to buy Twitter.

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Dagmar Heideman wrote:

Linden Lab doesn't have the capital to purchase Twitter and would never be able to raise the capital to do so.

I'd be cautious to assume never.

That's a mistake some people made talking to Bill Gates or Google peeps before they got their successes... assumptions they'd be later kicking themselves for as they were potential business partners :matte-motes-whistle:

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Maryanne Solo wrote:

What an amazing prospect.

I originally detested the thought of even looking at twitter, but now I thoroughly enjoy it and it more or less goes hand in hand with SL for me. (and many many others). A single tweet can arrange a gathering in minutes....

Could you provide a practical example of how Twitter might be used frequently by a resident in SL? I never had much use for Twitter. 

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I don't use twitter either, but I had an epiphany recently.

People love to talk. People want other people to listen to them. It's basic human nature. In the past, what did we do? We got on the phone ("Betty, did you hear about Don?!!!) or sent a text ("CU@8 +Bob yum). This was one-to-one communication. Next we had groups and chatrooms, but they were restricted by technology (one needed a computer). Twitter not only eliminates the computer (runs on cellphone) but offers multiple overlapping groups plus potential access to every other human being on the network. Yet, Twitter is more than a gossip network, it's a democratic media machine. No longer does one need connections or tons of money (or to chop someone up with an axe) to gain media exposure. With a cellphone and Twitter, one has a microphone to the world.

Why is Twitter successful? Because "Finally, someone is listening to me!"

Why is Second Life successful? Because "Finally, someone is looking at me!"

2+2=5

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I recently started using Twitter and can say that while previously my perception was, "who needs it?," now, after having gotten a grip on how it works, I find it to be an amazing tool for connecting people and sharing information. And unlike Facebook, you don't have to expose any information at all about your RL to be able to make use of it.

But SL buying out Twitter would be a wreck, imo. With LL's track record of buying things out and dismantling them in questionable attempts to incorporate them into SL, surely it would mean the end of Twitter. Not good.

...Dres

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I think others have clarified the main points nicely, but to add my similar thoughs:

> Twitter is, in my opinion, a really great communication tool that can help arrange SL meetups, allow groups of like minded people to share ideas about SL, allow people to quickly and simply advertise their SL creations to people who are interested in them, share great finds in SL etc

> The nature of 'following' used in Twitter allows people to follow those giving the information they are interested in. In a sense, it's like group chat \ notices only better. You can follow a person who tweets about stuff you are interested in and get useful, quick info from them rather than wading through group chat \ notices.

> A year or so ago I was also of the opinion that Twitter had no real connection to SL. However, having actually used it my opinion has done a huge about turn. It is a great tool for SLers to communicate and share SL related things, and many are using it for just that. 

> There is a valid opinion the concentration on external social media is to the detriment of the actual inworld experience and that we should be finding means of getting people into SL rather than spending all our time talking about SL externally. I wouldn't disagree with that. However, by the same token, I want tools to be able to discuss SL when I can't actually be inworld. After all, isn't that why we are all here on these forums?! Twitter, for me, is an ideal tool for such discussion. I can't tell you the number of times i've discovered an intersting SL location or got breaking SL news from Twitter when i've been browsing the net (I have a Twitter client that pops up tweets from people i folow in my browser).

> I've thought for some time that Twitter like functionality could have huge benefit in improving inworld functions such as group chat. I'd love to be able to 'follow' other residents and see their thoughts, new products etc in an easy to view timeline rather than wading through group notices, relying on group chat etc. I'd also love to be able to 'follow' certain LL channels to get news on particular areas i might be interested in. My thoughts on that are here from the old forum archive if anyone is really interested:

http://community.secondlife.com/t5/General-Discussions/Is-there-anything-I-should-be-following-on-Twitter-about-SL/m-p/483692/message-uid/483692/highlight/true#U483692

> In light of all the above, I think LL is missing a trick by not looking at Twitter like functionality that would allow us to both improve the nature of notices and group chat inworld and also allow us to cross communicate between inworld and out of world (imagine, for example, if I could 'tweet' something right now from my browser that would be seen by anyone following me inworld and, vice versa, if someone I follow tweeted something inworld right now that I saw when I was out of world that made me want to go inworld!)

> Despite all of that. I very much doubt LL could afford to buy out Twitter, and I'm not sure they should. What I really do wish they would consider though, is adpoting some of the basis of its functionality as a new and improved method of sharing and communicating.

 

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Suella Ember wrote:

> In light of all the above, I think LL is missing a trick by not looking at Twitter like functionality that would allow us to both improve the nature of notices and group chat inworld and also allow us to cross communicate between inworld and out of world (imagine, for example, if I could 'tweet' something right now from my browser that would be seen by anyone following me inworld and, vice versa, if someone I follow tweeted something inworld right now that I saw when I was out of world that made me want to go inworld!)

actually, the functionality exists... it's just a pain to implement oAuth inworld (although most of the work was already done by Babbage)... and that's where it need to be... embedded in the client is nice and all, but it severely limits the possible uses, when you could automate tweets from inworld objects to provide live information feeds, as well as personal feeds. more than one of us are looking for interesting ways to leverage that, (for me it's a project to look at after my current media excursion), and at least one person has made a hud for that very purpose (Opensource Obscure), that's freely available on the wiki... The coding community is seeing more potential here so expect more things that can drive twitter in the future.

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We had Avatars United until it closed down.  It worked well and had possibilities, but it seems that most SL residents, myself included, didn't really have any use for it, beyond the first flutter of interest.

As for Twitter, although a lot of people use it anonymously, they're not really being 'virtual', as it were.

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Y'know, I slap my forehead for not seeing this opportunity back in 2009. It still didn't click when LL bought Avatars United in January 2010. Linden Lab could have had Twitter for a song back then. I, like so many others, was a victim of my own prejudices against Twitter (grouping it with Facebook - a completely different beast).

http://www.twitip.com/the-history-of-twitters-valuation-infographic/

http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2010/12/twitter-raise/

http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2011/02/twitter-valuation-10-billion/

Better late than never. The US$10 billion figure is hype. It's the US$3.5-3.7 billion figure that counts, which (as outlined in the OP) is still manageable and advantageous. Linden Lab needs to move quickly - very quickly - and be willing to pay a premium to outbid Facebook and Google. Getting Twitter would be a coup for Linden Lab - a media sensation! Sneaking in under the radar and scooping Twitter from the big boys would put Second Life on the front page of every newspaper in the world. To quote Shakespeare:

There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.

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I think she means the difference between anonymous and reinvented.... the former, you are only exposing what you want of your RL, and the latter you are exposing what you want of your online life (with generally little connection to your RL)

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