At least in the case of two high-profile suitors that briefly explored the possibility of acquiring Twitter, it was the platform's infamous culture of bullying, trolls, and generally aggressive idiocy that turned them off in the end. One of those suitors would be Disney, which as Bloomberg now reports via insiders familiar with the talks, decided its family-friendly brand probably shouldn't be associated with a social media network most famous lately as being a "honeypot for a**holes" and a haven for abuse.
Per Bloomberg, "Disney’s discomfort with abuse on the site indicates that it’s a larger problem for Twitter’s business prospects than its executives imagined." That kind of begs the question: Do Twitter executives even use Twitter?
The last of the company's big prospects for an immediate sale, Salesforce, also walked away from a deal last week, with CEO Mark Benioff saying, "It wasn’t the right fit for us," noting that both the price (a reported $12 billion at a minimum) and the "culture" did not work for them. CNBC's Jim Cramer subsequently reported that trolls were an issue for Salesforce too, saying, "a lot of the bidders are looking at people with lots of followers and seeing the hatred."
Abuse, and Twitter's historic lack of ability or willingness to regulate against it, have been front and center in press pieces about the platform this year, particularly after the high-profile case of Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones which seems to have led directly to the unprecedented banning of conservative troll Milo Yiannopoulos. At the time, citing Twitter's up-to-that-point free speech free-for-all, Yiannopoulos said, "This is the beginning of the end for Twitter," implying that the freedom to mock and bully whomever, however one pleased, was one of the only good things Twitter still had going for it.
But as a forum for public conversation, particularly since it allows people to start multiple accounts and use fake names, Twitter has become an increasingly ugly, cacophonous place to hang one's internet hat, and one that rewards the loudest, most petulant, and thick-skinned though thin-skinned Donald Trump still seems to enjoy it. As more photo-based platforms like SnapChat and Instagram continue to grow their user bases, Twitter has been seeming more and more like the biggest shout-chamber of the social media world and if you, like Trump, enjoy waking up each day looking for someone to fight with, just be active on Twitter for a few weeks and the fights will arrive organically.
Twitter's viability as a company continues to be questioned, too, and Disney executives and investors allegedly balked at the $12 billion valuation given that the company is still not profitable. Also, a lawsuit from an investor in September alleges that Twitter executives lied about the company's prospects for user growth causing its stock price to soar to an April 2015 high of $52.87 per share. Subsequent lack of real growth caused the stock to plummet, and its stock price today is $16.96.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who sits on Disney's board, may be perfectly pleased with this outcome however. As many pundits have noted, Dorsey was deferring to his own board in retaining an investment firm to explore a sale, but he is not in any hurry to sell the company himself. According to Bloomberg, Dorsey thinks that "more time [will] prove that a new live-video streaming strategy can help increase user growth."