It tells you how desperate the tech press is for a juicy story that the New York Times ran with Apple supposedly becoming a major investor in Twitter, even though it turns out that those investment talks happened more than a year ago.
It’s for two reasons: One, Apple and Twitter are incredibly hot companies. And two, the financial press, the tech press, and especially the stock market really want somebody, anybody, to buy Twitter or Facebook. Right now, these companies are hugely popular but their financial future is a mystery. Facebook’s stock woes are too well documented around here, but Twitter is still private if likely profitable. That’s likely to become even more so now that they’re introducing “cashtags”; ways to tag your Tweet with a stock symbol.
— Twitter (@twitter) July 31, 2012
That illustrates an important lesson, that these companies are important but volatile. Twitter, with the cashtags, has absolutely no illusions whatsoever that it’s bulletproof, which is probably why it’s stayed away from any IPO.
Facebook’s woes probably help underline what a good idea that is. Facebook has stayed remarkably stable for a social network, but it also consistently ticks off its customers and its stock woes illustrate that basically not having a plan can put you in trouble even when you’re the king of the hill.
So expect more stories like this, because there’s nothing an investor likes better than the illusion of stability.