Disney’s Bob Iger walked away from a Twitter purchase because of “nastiness”

Second thoughts about Twitter.
Second thoughts about Twitter.
Image: Reuters/Lucas Jackson
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Walt Disney walked away from a deal to acquire Twitter at the last minute, according to a new memoir by Disney CEO Bob Iger.

In an interview with the New York Times linked to the book’s Sept. 23 release, Iger said he had second thoughts about the deal because “the nastiness is extraordinary” on Twitter. Iger had in 2017 acknowledged looking at a Twitter acquisition. “We thought Twitter had global reach, a pretty interesting user interface, and a compelling way that we might be able to present and sell the content our company makes to the consumer,” Iger said at the time.

But now he tells Times columnist Maureen Dowd that “the troubles were greater than I wanted to take on, greater than I thought it was responsible for us to take on.” Iger said his experience as a Twitter user was that “you turn and look at your notifications and you’re immediately saying, why am I doing this? Why do I endure this pain?”

Iger cited the possibility that toxic dimensions of the Twitter experience could hurt Disney’s family focused brand, but also questioned the broader impact on society. “Like a lot of these platforms, they have the ability to do a lot of good in our world. They also have an ability to do a lot of bad.”

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has said the company actively works to combat any incidents of abuse and hate speech on Twitter. The company declined to comment on Iger’s latest remarks.

Twitter shares were at a particularly low point in 2016 and 2017, falling to as low as $14.02 in June 2016. At their $43.23 close on Sept. 20, they’re up 208% since then. By comparison, Disney shares are up about 27% since the end of 2016.

Disney wound up instead acquiring majority ownership in video-streaming technology provider BAMTech in August 2017. Iger had specified in 2017 that Twitter was more interesting to Disney for content distribution than as social media.

Updated Sept. 22 with Twitter’s declining to comment.