Rumor is Twitter is up for sale, and the tech industry is abuzz with opinions on who should buy it and why. I’ve got my own two cents on the matter – which won’t be enough to acquire Twitter – but I think it will buy me liberty to chip in a few thoughts.
As a Salesforce professional, the prospect of having Twitter embedded natively into Salesforce as a true social cloud powerhouse blows my mind. Twitter is the collaboration tool that Salesforce has been struggling to deliver with Chatter, its proprietary version of Twitter+Facebook. Salesforce has long been laying heavy emphasis into Chatter, but I doubt they are hitting the adoption metrics they’re shooting for.
Being Salesforce certified means that I am obliged to take three maintenance exams a year to stay current – a stringent requirement by anyone’s estimation – and it seems every new release includes at least one update to Chatter, if not several. With that degree of development effort being dedicated to a relatively (let’s be honest) sidekick-level feature, I can only imagine that CEO Marc Benioff must be a little disappointed that Chatter hasn’t exactly exploded on the scene. Thus, I find the idea of bringing in the total success of Twitter to replace the Chatter platform not only logical, but scrumptiously appealing as an implementer.
That all said, let’s bring in some facts to support my two cents’ worth of opinion.
Salesforce has made four machine learning / predictive analytics acquisitions since this February, which they would have surely loved to apply to a rich dataset so relevant to their vertical as LinkedIn. They suffered a big setback when they recently lost their bid for the professional social media platform to Microsoft. I myself was disappointed to hear that news, as a LinkedIn lover and a Salesforce evangelist. Now they’ll need to make a big play to stay competitive.
Fortunately, it looks like that’s exactly what they’re doing. They’ve already built a track record of aggressive acquisition through an extended buying spree since 2006. Judging from the technologies I’m familiar with, Salesforce has shown an excellent purchasing aptitude and a voracious appetite for acquiring the best and brightest in every niche. Let’s take for example this short list: Heroku, Jigsaw, Basecamp, Pardot, DemandWare, Steelbrick, and Prediction10. Those are just my favorites!
Salesforce can buy all the clever analytics tools it wants to, but they’re only ever going to be as valuable as the data they’re able to look at. To make this idea clearer – it would be like buying the Golden State Warriors (go team!) but neglecting to give them a ball to play with. It’s kind of hard to make those killer jumpshots without the ball, and that’s what having analysis tools without the data is like. It’s not to say that Salesforce doesn’t have data to mine; I’m talking about getting a behemoth infusion of data. Luckily, existing as it does in pure, parsable language, Twitter is #builttobemined.
In case you haven’t noticed, Microsoft and Salesforce are duking it out for dominance in the machine learning sphere (that’s artificial intelligence for you layfolk). Microsoft’s Azure Cloud features an easy-to-use, drag-n-drop predictive analytics builder that is going to give Salesforce possibly the first real run for its money since Dynamics CRM failed to catch up. I’ll be seeing a lot of the new Einstein at Dreamforce next week and I expect to be totally impressed.
Now that Microsoft has emptied its coffers on LinkedIn, the timing is primed for Salesforce to swoop in and buy up Twitter. They may have to borrow, but it will be worth it for the tremendous value add Twitter will bring to Salesforce’s already knock-out suite of cloud offerings.
Go kill it Salesforce, and happy hunting.