Above: Video of Steve Ballmer cornering a Twitter founder at a house party
They don’t provide much detail, but the New York Times magazine on Sunday confirmed rumors that Microsoft tried to buy Twitter, back when the startup was just beginning to gain a foothold with Carrot Top-level celebrities.
From the fascinating piece breaking down how Twitter really began (which really tells a much larger story about how terrible people in Silicon Valley are):
While some C- and B-list celebrities joined Twitter during its formative years, it wasn’t until 2009, when Ashton Kutcher joined, that the service took a permanent turn toward Hollywood. Soon came Justin Bieber, Queen Rania of Jordan and, eventually, world leaders as diverse as President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela and the Dalai Lama. By that point, Williams was regularly turning down overtures to buy the company. Al Gore pitched Williams and Stone one night over copious amounts of wine and Patron tequila at his St. Regis suite in San Francisco. Steve Ballmer, the chief executive of Microsoft, approached Williams during a private dinner at Bill Gates’s home.
Back around 2010, talk of Microsoft buying Twitter was like catnip in the tech blogosphere.
Most analysts thought it was a good idea, seeing as Microsoft was striking out with its more homespun efforts to capture the social media audience. What they don’t mention is that Microsoft probably would have renamed the service Binger, “a new way to Bing.” (alt tagline: “Let’s Bing One Out Together”).
It appears now that it wasn’t for a lack of trying that Microsoft failed at the buy; everyone wanted Twitter, but Twitter wasn’t selling.
(If this little morsel isn’t doesn’t make you want to read the loooooong piece, know that most of the story is about Jack Dorsey being a lying, self-promoting dick.)