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商业 - 科技

谷歌收购Twitter的可能性在上涨

Mathew Ingram 2015年08月06日

谷歌打造一个类似Facebook那样的社交网络,借此收集社交数据的计划终告失败,这成为其可能出手买下Twitter的原因。

    最近,谷歌终于宣布不再向自己的社交网站Google+投入那么多精力。作为搜索巨擘,谷歌为Google+花费了数亿美元资金和四年时间,目的是让后者能与Facebook一争长短,但一直未能如愿。它做出的调整之一就是用户登录YouTube和其他谷歌旗下网站时不必再使用Google+账号;而Google+中较有价值的业务,比如照片和视频聊天工具Hangouts,则已被剥离出来并独立运营。

    互联网新闻网站Mashable上有一篇很长的文章,详细探讨了此事,其中的内容对谷歌来说多少有些尴尬。文章指出,谷歌试图打造一个能击败Facebook的社交网络服务,但最终只变成一个带给它诸多教训的经典案例,比如谷歌没弄明白Facebook网络效应的真正力量所在,而且自大地认为炫酷的功能和强制使用Google+账号就能说服别人把时间花在自己的社交网站上。Google+的遭遇很像之前的Buzz那款产品,只是投入要多好几个零,而且谷歌也比推出Buzz时自负得多。

    不过,谷歌绝不会接受数亿(甚至数十亿)美元以及诸多开发人力和时间只换得一个教训的局面。它推出Google+的初衷并未消失。如果说情况有什么不同的话,那就是击败Facebook这个愿望变得比以前更迫切。但就实现这个目标而言,谷歌并未取得明显进展。正是出于这个原因,我才认为谷歌决定把重心从Google+转移,意味着它更有可能收购Twitter。

    谷歌打造一个新社交网站的原因不仅仅是想遏制Facebook的上升势头,或者是希望得到可以用来打广告的社交网络资产和内容。毫无疑问,所有这些因素都起了作用,但谷歌的主要着眼点一直是通过Google+来获取用户的实时行为数据。有了这些数据的帮助,谷歌就有可能微调自己的搜索结果和发布广告时使用的算法。

    Google+问世后的这些年里,社交分享对内容和广告的网络流量的影响几乎已经变得和搜索一样重要。有些时候,社交分享的作用甚至更大。在这种情况下,获取实时社交数据对谷歌的未来而言变得比以往任何时候都关键。但Google+在这方面无法提供足够的信息,而且差得还很远。

    这就是谷歌最近决定和Twitter言归于好的原因,它还跟Twitter达成协议,进而可以通过后者的Firehose服务获得实时用户数据。在Twitter发展初期,双方曾携手合作。然而,不断壮大的Twitter萌生了上市的念头,它提出的新条件遭到了谷歌拒绝。最终,Twitter和谷歌分道扬镳。但就在几个月前,谷歌的搜索索引里再次出现了Twitter推文的身影,谷歌甚至开始把搜到的推文单列在搜索结果上方,即所谓的“OneBox”区域,以示强调。

    显然,谷歌可以继续向Twitter支付Firehose使用费,就像使用其他服务那样。但既然实际情况已经证明,Google+几乎不能作为一个社交平台把它的各项业务结合在一起,谷歌就需要通过其他方法把这些业务跟一个社交枢纽连接起来,并且无限制地获取实时数据,而Twitter应该说是可供谷歌选择的最佳途径。

    无巧不成书,Twitter前首席执行官迪克·科斯托洛离任,用户增长数据一直不够抢眼,再加上过渡期CEO、联合创始人杰克·多尔西表示前景暗淡,Twitter的股价一直承受着相当大的压力。尽管此前Twitter一直勇敢地表示希望保持独立运营,但谷歌很可能以200亿美元左右的价格将前者纳入旗下,这个数字占谷歌搜索业务收入的四分之一。Twitter投资人克里斯·萨卡甚至已经表示,谷歌和Twitter有可能“一拍即合”。

    这几年,苹果和微软等几家公司一直是传说中的Twitter潜在收购方(有人认为亚马逊也有可能收购Twitter,甚至是Facebook)。但就Twitter所能发挥的作用而言,谷歌的需求最大。因此,谷歌很可能成为最有动力的“追求者”,而Twitter财务状况欠佳也许正好成为谷歌管理层向董事会提出此项建议的契机。(财富中文网)

    译者:Charlie

    校对:詹妮

    Google GOOG -0.31% finally announced recently that it is scaling back its focus on Google+, the also-ran social network that the search giant has spent hundreds of millions of dollars and four years of its time trying to turn into a competitor to Facebook FB -0.10% . Among other things, users will no longer be forced to sign in with a Google+ account when they log on to YouTube and other Google properties, and the useful parts of the network—such as Photos and Hangouts—have already been hived off and turned into standalone offerings.

    As a lengthy piece at Mashable describes in somewhat embarrassing detail, the quest to build a Facebook-crushing social service is a classic tale with a number of lessons, including Google’s inability to understand the sheer power of Facebook’s network effects, and its hubris in thinking that gee-whiz features or forced signups would convince anyone to spend any time on the service. It’s a lot like the previous failure of Google’s Buzz feature, but with way more zeros and much larger egos.

    Google can’t afford to just chalk those missing millions (or billions) and lost person-years of development time up to experience, however. The reason why it launched Google+ hasn’t gone away. If anything, it has become even more compelling, and Google isn’t much closer to attaining it—which is why I think its decision to move away from Google+ makes it even more likely that it will buy Twitter TWTR 0.41% .

    The search company didn’t just create a new social service because it wanted to blunt the force of Facebook’s rise, or because it wanted social assets and content to advertise against. All of those factors no doubt played a role, but the main focus was always that Google+ would allow Google to tap into real-time behavioral data from users—data that in turn could help the company fine-tune both its search results and its advertising algorithms.

    In the years since Google+ was launched, social sharing has become almost as important a traffic driver for both content and advertising as search is, and in some cases even more so. That makes access to real-time social data even more crucial for Google’s future than it has ever been, but the Google+ network isn’t even close to providing enough of that information.

    That’s why Google decided to bury the hatchet recently and cut a deal with Twitter to get access to the company’s real-time “firehose” of user data. The two were partners in the early years of Twitter, but as the service grew larger and started to think about an IPO, it asked for new terms to which Google balked. Twitter ultimately cut Google off. As of a few months ago, however, tweets are again flowing through Google’s search index, and the company has even started highlighting those results in its “One Box” display.

    Obviously, Google could continue to just pay Twitter for access to its firehose, as other services do. But now that its in-house social network has proven to be mostly useless as a social connector between its various services, it needs some other way to plug social into those services and get access to unlimited real-time data, and Twitter is arguably the best method available.

    As luck would have it, Twitter’s stock is under considerable pressure after the departure of CEO Dick Costolo, consistently underwhelming user-growth numbers and a gloomy outlook from interim CEO and co-founder Jack Dorsey. The company has talked bravely in the past about wanting to continue as a standalone service, but Google could probably buy it for about $20 billion, or one quarter worth of search revenue. Twitter investor Chris Sacca has even said that the two would be “an instant fit.”

    Other potential suitors for Twitter have been discussed over the years, including Apple and Microsoft (some believe Amazon is also a candidate, or even Facebook), but Google has the biggest need for what Twitter can offer—and therefore it is likely to be the most highly motivated bidder. And Twitter’s financial woes may have given it just the opportunity it needs to make that case to the company’s board.

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