Since everyone has decided that Elon Musk’s $54-a-share offer for Twitter is just a troll, the question remains who else can buy the company? Is there a suitor who can digest Twitter and deal with all its baggage? Or is the company destined to be a middling underachiever?

Twitter had adopted the poison pill plan that would make it difficult for Musk to achieve its goals and increase his stake beyond 15 percent ownership of Twitter. If he increases his stake to above 15 percent, then Twitter has the right to sell more shares to other buyers at a discount. That is, Twitter will find a white knight. The New York Post reported that private equity giant Thoma Bravo was considering a bid. The firm, which manages $100 billion, definitely has the resources to friend Twitter and mute Musk. 

If not Thoma Bravo, then some other private equity firm could make a bid for Twitter. They obviously would know that they are buying an underperforming asset and squeezing out operational inefficiencies. A PE buyer would likely find a better management team than one currently in place, something the current board of directors should have done anyway. 



When viewed with a broader lens, Twitter doesn’t have many options. Apple won’t want the mess on its hands. Thanks to its size and corporate needs, it is already threading a needle when it comes to political pressures across the globe. 

Facebook and Google have their problems, and both companies are already dealing with anti-trust problems. I would put Amazon in the same category — they too are on a public enemy shortlist in Washington DC and Brussels. Previously rumored suitors such as Disney are likely to stay away from Twitter which has become a political hot potato. 

The one realistic option for Twitter is Microsoft, which has the resources to pull off the deal. More importantly, it has friends in high places — Washington DC — to get the deal approved by the regulators. And ultimately, it might now be such a bad option for the company to be part of Microsoft. 

The last path is something I suggested yesterday — get a new CEO, one who is capable of fixing the company’s fundamentals, making it more efficient and ultimately profitable. A strong player could start by putting together a syndicate of investors — both private and strategic to push Musk back into its corner of the Internet. 

And if that does happen to pass, in a few years, we might look back at Musk’s bid for Twitter as the best thing that happened for the company. Given Twitter’s history of meandering mediocrity, I am not holding my breath. 

April 16, 2022. San Francisco

U.S. President Joe Biden has informed Americans that a potential cyberwar with Russia is likely. And we should be prepared for the consequences and havoc it can cause on such a society. It is common knowledge many of our industries, corporations, and infrastructure services, such as the electrical grid, are weak and can fall victim to large-scale attacks. Even Americans have weak defenses on our computers.  

“Given the administration’s stellar track record in predicting Russian moves in its attack on Ukraine, we should take this warning seriously,” wrote Richard Bennett, a writer, and analyst focusing on telecom and network. “Cyberwar is a business conducted by firms and individual actors with a rapidly changing arsenal of software-based tools.” 

The timing of the White House release was at best a coincidence, and at worst, curious since it came on the same day Apple experienced a massive outage in its online services. To be very clear, what I am about to write is hypothetical, and I am putting it in my “what if” buckets. 

An odd and somewhat crazy thought crossed my mind — what if the outage resulted from an attempt to compromise Apple’s crown jewel — its Keychain, end-to-end encryption, and the iMessage. Like many, I have had blind faith in Apple’s capabilities to protect my privacy and data. I am not alone, and many folks in the government and corporate America have faith in Apple’s capabilities. So this keychain could be a single point of information security failure that could impact a lot of folks across America. Forget America — with hundreds of millions of iPhones, a breach’s impact will likely have an impact globally. 

If the cyberwar starts to unfold, password management services such 1Password, could find themselves under extreme pressure. Yes, they all have pretty blue chip reputations, and impecable infrastucture. It is crazy to even suggest as much. However, read the headlines just from today — a ransomware group is rumored to have accessed Okta’s database, which provides trusted authentication services to about 15,000 companies. The same ransomware group has claimed that it stole source code from Microsoft. If this is even fractionally true, then basically every company is vulnerable. 

No matter how secure we might feel, at this point, our password defense is our biggest strength and our biggest weakness. 

PS: Bennett has some good advice: follow the news, check for patches, and update daily. Keep a local copy of your data, just in case you need to wipe your computer and restore it. That’s the best for now. 

March 22, 2022. San Francisco


WORTH READING

The Pursuit of Productivity is a trap: “in a culture so focused on managing time, we have become subservient to it,” writes Lawrence Yeo. “By scheduling your day down to the last minute, you introduce an anxiety from managing your real-time progress to an imagined vision.”

The Joy of Physical Media: David Mitchell, a British comedian, points to the growing sales of physical media formats (including books) as a sign that digital (streaming) lacks a loving feeling. I am sadly in the “streaming is convenient” camp, though I tend to buy my music from Bandcamp to support the artists, not because I want a download taking up space on my hard drive.

We all still don’t understand Substack: Nathan Baschez, who was with Substack in its earliest days, explains why the newsletter platform differs from most other media startups. I kind of agree with Nathan.


My advice to the attorneys general: It’s not about Zuck

Yesterday must have been a tough day at work in the Facebook offices. First, Apple fired off a broadside on Facebook around issues of privacy. Then, the Federal Trade Commission and 48 Attorneys General teamed up to start antitrust proceedings against the company. They want to break up Facebook into residual parts. There are much … Continue reading My advice to the attorneys general: It’s not about Zuck

No TikTok For You

TikTok wouldn’t be selling its US operations to Microsoft. “We look forward to seeing how the service evolves in these important areas,” Microsoft said in a tersely worded blog post. That’s like a jilted teenager, saying good luck after being spurned. I thought the whole notion of Microsoft buying TikTok was a bad idea anyway. And as … Continue reading No TikTok For You