One is an entertainment giant famous for exacting tight control over its content. The other is a tech firm whose commitment to free speech has earned it a reputation as a hub for news and a haven for online harassment.
Together, they make for a brow-raising pairing. But stranger things have happened in the land of acquisitions than the chatter surrounding Walt Disney Co. and Twitter Inc.
Bloomberg first reported Monday that Disney is considering bidding on Twitter, joining a growing list of potential suitors said to include Salesforce Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Google Inc.
While Twitter has long been discussed as an acquisition target for other tech firms, Burbank-based Disney stands out because it is the only media company rumored to be eyeing the social network. At first blush, any interest Disney might have in Twitter isn’t outlandish: it has deep enough pockets to acquire the $20-billion company and incentive to snap up a digital distribution channel.
As more and more people abandon costly cable TV subscriptions and instead choose to consume entertainment from online streams and mobile devices, companies such as Disney — whose vast media empire includes prominent television networks ABC and ESPN — are scrambling to secure their digital futures. Buying Twitter, which is based in San Francisco, could give Disney a strong distribution platform for video content.
But analysts were deeply skeptical of such a deal, citing strategic, economic and philosophical reasons.
“It is unlikely,” said analyst Laura Martin, who covers Disney for Needham & Co. “I think the traditional Disney shareholder would be really unsupportive of this acquisition.”
Neither Disney nor Twitter responded to requests for comment.
Under Chief Executive Robert Iger [pictured here], Disney has expanded greatly over the last decade by buying top-tier content companies Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Entertainment and Lucasfilm for a total of about $15.5 billion. The…