Shares in Twitter are up more than 20% on the New York Stock Exchange today following speculation that Google, Microsoft, Salesforce.com and Verizon are among potential bidders for the social media company.
While a sale is not thought to be imminent, Twitter's directors are very keen on sealing a deal this year, according to CNBC sources.
Twitter, which allows users to post short messages (or "tweets") online, makes its money from advertising revenues but has recently been a disappointment to investors.
Subscriber growth has flatlined at about 313 million users and usage has fallen in key markets like the US, with Twitter appearing to lose out to other social networking sites like Facebook and Snapchat.
Twitter's revenues grew by 20% in the second quarter, to $602 million, compared with the year-earlier period, and they are expected to increase for the full year. But financial analysts expect the rate of sales growth to fall sharply next year.
Before today's news, Twitter's share price had fallen by 21% since the start of the year, valuing the business at about $13 billion.
Intriguingly, Vala Afshar, Salesforce.com's chief digital evangelist, tweeted several reasons for possible interest in Twitter earlier today.
In a message entitled "Why Twitter?" Afshar listed "personal learning network," "the best realtime, context rich news," "democratize intelligence," and "great place to promote others" as key points.
An acquisition of Twitter would follow Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)'s $26.2 billion takeover of LinkedIn Corp. in June and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ)'s $4.8 billion deal for Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO)'s core assets in July. (See Microsoft & LinkedIn: Marriage Made in the Cloud and Verizon to Buy Yahoo for $4.8B.)
— Iain Morris, , News Editor, Light Reading