Is Twitter turning Japanese?

By Teamspirit on Thursday, 20 October 2016

There has been speculation that Japanese telecom giant, SoftBank, is interested in acquiring the social media platform if the price is right.

Despite companies such as Google, Microsoft and most recently Salesforce turning down the chance to buy Twitter, SoftBank has a number of reasons to be interested in the hot potato of tech.

Twitter’s struggle to add active users and make money explains its lack of appeal to potential investors - this stagnant growth is arguably a result of increasing competition from Facebook and Instagram.

Yet contrary to global trends, SoftBank’s home market of Japan is the only country in which Twitter leads the platform rivalry.  A likely reason is the nation’s concise language – in one of the three Japanese alphabets, Kanji, a single character can replace a whole word. This is clearly suited to Twitter’s strict 140 character-limit, and means Japanese tweets can contain far more data.

Although SoftBank has not invested in social media before, their previous acquisitions demonstrate an interest in developing new business areas. The telecoms company also announced last week that it will be launching a $25 billion London-based tech fund, expected to grow to $100 billion over the next five years, in collaboration with the Saudi Arabian government.

With all other bidders out of the running, Twitter could certainly benefit from the fund’s support - it may also be in their favour that Saudi Arabian Prince Al-Waheed is the second largest single shareholder in Twitter.

So what might the buyout mean for the communications and marketing industry? If SoftBank’s financial backing facilitates new software development, it may well drive user growth and popularity. Ultimately if the platform is to remain relevant, it needs to address the core concern deterring previous potential buyers – protect users from harassment by improving its service.

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