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According to comScore, traffic to Twitter surged in March to nearly 10m uniques, up a whopping 131% in a single month, driven in large part by middle-aged users. Twitter's remarkable growth has everyone speculating about a possible acquisition.
Facebook made an offer, but it was turned down. And recently rumors have been circulating that Google might have an interest in the microblogging startup.
But a Twitter account has beat Twitter itself to the punch when it comes to M&A. The popular @cnnbrk account, which has nearly 950,000 followers and tweets news via CNN's web/email breaking news feed, has been officially acquired by CNN. The terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.
@cnnbrk was started by James Cox (@imajes), a self-described 'Technologist, Photographer, Raconteur', for non-commercial purposes; he simply wanted a way to get breaking news delivered to his phone. Before long, others started following the account; chalk that up to the fact that many people didn't know it wasn't official.
Despite the account's popularity and the potential for abuse, Cox didn't take advantage his power and indeed, CNN says it was working with him for two years on the @cnnbrk account. Today, @cnnbrk is the most popular Twitter account and is headed towards the 1 million follower mark.
Since Twitter's terms of service technically don't permit accounts to be sold, it's unclear how this deal was structured, but a recent tweet sent by Cox from Atlanta (CNN's headquarters) hints that he's been assisting the news media giant with its Twitter strategy, so perhaps he's being compensated as a consultant. He told The Guardian's Bobbie Johnson that "the outcome has been very good, and it's been fun doing it".
Whatever the case and dollar amount may be, it's nice to see another major company that has chosen to embrace a web-savvy supporter. Despite the ease with which brands can usually have 'infringing' accounts turned over to them, the fact that CNN chose to work with Cox and acquired Twitter's most popular account in fair manner demonstrates that, contrary to popular myth, brands are exercising common sense on a regular basis.
Photo credit: James Sarmiento via Flickr.