Imagine making $2.4 billion in a day. Jeff Bezos can. Above-average Amazon Black Friday sales landed him the figure, tipping his personal fortune over the $100bn mark, the first person to do so in the 21st century.
Bezos has no shortage of projects to keep him busily whittling down that fortune–if ever one person could–from space rockets to ubiquitous global Internet. But there’s one more he could, and perhaps should, take on: Twitter.
Twitter, oddly, shares a lot with one of its most followed and divisive users, Donald Trump. Both are wildly popular, and reluctant to change. Both have impressive metrics but questionable bottom lines. Both could probably do with some advice from Bezos.
Twitter’s use as a live search and discussion board is second to none, and it has become an essential cog in the media consumption machine.
It is also infected with millions of bots and propagandists – to the extent it currently appears a perfect vehicle for the kind of Surkovian mind-tricks democracies are suffering everywhere from Moscow to Mountain View.
Co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey has a problem. Despite allowing people to double their wordage per tweet in September the company is still struggling to make money. Its revenue was reported at $590m in Q3 2017: a 4% year-on-year decline.
Twitter expects to turn its first bottom-line profit by the turn of the year. But that cannot last long without something to reignite usership. Bezos’ Amazon is the firm for the job. It has deep pockets: $15.4bn this June. That could be enough to create a runway long enough to give a Twitter 2.0 time to chop and change its model.
Twitter has long struggled with advertising, which it admits lags behind user growth this year. Amazon has never had a problem attracting ads to its platforms, and might see Twitter as a great way to steal a Big Data march on its megarivals Google and Facebook.
Bezos is no stranger to the media: he bought the Washington Post in 2013, and it turned a profit last year. Twitter is undoubtedly a huge media asset in its own right, and could even complement the Post’s editorial.
There’s no stopping Google or Facebook taking a shot at Twitter, either. But Bezos, and Amazon, has all the tools to make an acquisition of the precarious brand a symbiotic relationship. It would be interesting to see, too, what the World’s Richest Person would make of Trump’s trademark outbursts.