NEW YORK Google Inc and Facebook Inc, plus others, have held low level takeover talks with Twitter that give the Internet sensation a value as high as $10 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported.
In December, Twitter raised $200 million in financing in a deal that valued it at $3.7 billion. The company, which allows users to broadcast 140-character messages to groups of followers, had 175 million users as of September.
The Wall Street Journal reported on its website that executives at Twitter have held "low level" talks with executives at Facebook and Google in recent months about a possible takeover of Twitter.
Citing people familiar with the matter, the WSJ said other companies have also held similar talks.
"But what's remarkable is the money that people familiar with the matter say frames the discussions with at least some potential suitors; an estimated valuation in the neighborhood of $8 billion to $10 billion," the report said.
The paper said the talks have so far gone nowhere and that Google, Facebook and Twitter all declined to comment.
Despite the valuation, the report said Twitter's executives and board were working on building a large, independent company.
"People familiar with the situation said the company believes it can grow into a $100 billion company," the WSJ said.
Twitter, created in 2006, is among a crop of popular Internet social networking services that includes Facebook, Zynga and LinkedIn.
A growing secondary market has developed in shares of the privately held Web sensations and investors are monitoring the companies closely in the hope they might float shares.
It was only in the middle of 2010 that Twitter offered marketers a way to advertise on the service.
Industry research firm eMarketer said last month that Twitter, which doesn't disclose financial information, generated an estimated $45 million from advertising in 2010 and is expected to generate some $150 million this year.
Google, the world's number 1 Internet search engine, generated roughly $29 billion in revenue in 2010 and Facebook, recently valued at $50 billion, produced about $1.9 billion, eMarketer said.
(Additional reporting by Alexei Oreskovic; writing by Neil Fullick, Editing by Dean Yates)