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Would Apple Screw Up Twitter on Buyout?

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- On Monday, I wrote an article for TheStreet explaining why rumored buyers such as Google (GOOG) would end up screwing up Pandora (P).

It's interesting to approach the same subject vis-a-vis the prospects of Apple (AAPL - Get Report) buying Twitter. Last month, I ventured that it made sense, but I have done some thinking since then.

These conversations come down to two primary things.

First, integration. How can the buyer seamlessly work the company it acquires into its ecosystem? If you're buying a solid brand -- Twitter and Pandora certainly qualify (in that order) -- it only makes sense to want to preserve its identity.

Second, and closely related . . . Can the buyer not only maintain, but guarantee the acquired company's autonomy?

I would think -- and hope -- these things would matter to the takeover target. I think -- and hope -- they do at Pandora and Twitter. I really don't think getting bought out is just a natural step in the progression at either company.

With that said, any buyout would have to address those two points favorably.

It's tricky. You need to integrate, but, with companies such as Twitter and Pandora, you should not do so at the expense of the long-term trajectories they're charting.

In Pandora's case, I can't see a way Google or (AMZN), for that matter, could swallow Pandora whole, yet not break the company's stride. That doesn't mean there isn't a way; however, aside from complete and total autonomy, nothing sticks out as obvious.

Google could treat Pandora like it did YouTube. But, that assumes quite a bit, particularly that the search and advertising giant would throw its support behind Pandora's very different sales model and invest in it accordingly.

When looking at any M&A rumor you have to ask several questions to separate inane speculation from something with a legitimate chance of happening.

Who needs the buyout and why? Does a buyout benefit both parties equally? Or is this a lopsided relationship where one company operates from a position of weakness? And I am not speaking relatively. Of course, comparatively, Apple dwarfs Twitter, but in their spaces, both companies are quite healthy. Neither needs to seek M&A on the buyout or sellout side.
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