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Twitter’s reputation for abuse is turning off potential suitors

Twitter’s reputation for abuse is turning off potential suitorsLast month, it seemed that Twitter would be the next big acquisition in the tech world. Bids were reportedly being prepared for the service by some of the biggest companies on the planet, from Google, to Disney, to cloud computing giant Salesforce. But weeks later and Twitter remains on its own. No bids have been tabled, no acquisitions announced — in part, apparently, due to the service's reputation for abusive behavior.

Twitter's reputation as a haven for trolls was one of the key reasons both Disney and Salesforce declined to make bids for Twitter, according to reports from Bloomberg and CNBC host Jim Cramer. Citing people familiar with Disney's management, Bloomberg says the family-friendly animation giant had even hired two investment banks to work out a bid for the service, but eventually decided not to put a deal on the table, fearing that Twitter's sexist, racist, and otherwise unpleasant abusers would sully Disney's image.

While not necessarily as family-oriented as Disney, Salesforce reportedly reached a similar decision on a Twitter bid for much the same reasons. Speaking on CNBC's Squawk on the Street, Mad Money host Jim Cramer said Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff had expressed concerns about Twitter's problems with user abuse directly to him. "What's happened is, a lot of the bidders are looking at people with lots of followers and seeing the hatred," Cramer said, claiming that Salesforce was "very concerned about this notion."

Trolls weren't the only reason Disney decided against a bid for the service, Bloomberg says. Major Disney investors reportedly expressed doubts to the company about a potential purchase, with Twitter's $12 billion price tag looking a little too steep, even for an entity as huge as Disney. The two companies' CEOs share a connection — Twitter boss Jack Dorsey has said he sees Disney head Bob Iger as a mentor after he recruited him to Disney's board — but that still wasn't enough for Disney to look past Twitter's problems.

Twitter has historically avoided implementing any major changes that would stem the tide of abuse that many of its users face on a daily basis. The company has seemed paralyzed, clinging to concepts of completely free speech hardcoded into its founding ethos, unable to actually find a solutions when it did make attempts to change, and always wary of making any major changes for fear that it may inhibit growth. Ironically, that fear of inhibiting growth may actually be the thing that stops Twitter growing at all, as companies looking from the outside in continue to see an increasingly unattractive prospect.
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