Twitter is again in not-great shape following an earnings report and disappointing growth stats, proving at least for now that candidate-turned-Twitterer-in-Chief Trump didn't do a lot to help the 11-year-old social media platform. But, the President's incessant, high-profile use of Twitter remains an asset, apparently, and Bloomberg suggests that it's revived talks of a possible acquisition by a larger company, after several suitors fell away last fall during preliminary talks of a sale.
Bloomberg admits, however, that "Twitter executives have said that Trump’s Twitter-focused campaign [have] had no noticeable impact on user growth or time spent on the site," and that proved true in growth reports the company released early Thursday. As NBC News reports, the company posted fourth-quarter earnings of 16 cents per share on revenue of $717 million, while analysts expected revenue to to be $740 million with lower earnings per share. That sent Twitter's stock price tumbling today, currently down 10.6 percent at $16.75 per share. That's still up from it's all-time low of $13.90 last May, but it's worrying for investors and the company as a whole.
The Wall Street Journal notes that this is Twitter's "10th straight quarter of slowing revenue growth, up just 0.9% year over year." They had a net loss of $167.1 million, and advertising revenue was $638 million, which was down slightly year over year, despite some small growth in daily and monthly active users the former likely attributable in the fourth quarter to the presidential debates and the election.
Referring clearly to Trump's Twitter addiction, CEO Jack Dorsey gave a statement in today's earnings call saying, "The whole world is watching Twitter. While we may not be currently meeting everyone’s growth expectations, there is one thing that continues to grow and outpace our peers: Twitter’s influence and impact."
But some analysts aren't buying it. One analyst, Rodney Hull of SunTrust, tells the Journal that the bump in new users on the platform are likely primarily a new breed of "passive, non-tweeting" users who joined in order to follow Trump's antics. And it's already been widely suggested that Trump could be permanently hurting Twitter's brand, alienating many of its original fans who now can't disassociate the platform from the President. Local activists in San Francisco have even tried to suggest that by not banning Trump the company is colluding with him, calling Twitter "the mouthpiece of fascism." While this argument might be thin, a second protest at the company's headquarters is scheduled for Saturday.
Usage trends could still improve on the site as new tools to counter abuses are installed and as more Trump fans join the fray and test the limits of those tools.
And Dorsey is correct, for better or worse, when he says, "You don’t go a day without hearing about Twitter." But too bad half of those times are going to lead to an immediate eyeroll and/or actual retching.