You can learn a lot about a public company by reading its risk factors.
These are the portions of companies’ financial filings that require them to put on a show of honesty and humility. Risk factors are the challenges a company sees for itself, the threats it believes could sink it.
Twitter lists more than 40 risk factors in its most recent quarterly filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Many of them are obvious challenges that apply to any company (currency fluctuations could hurt, taxes might go up, God forbid a natural disaster destroy our headquarters, etc.). So far, it has navigated those successfully enough. It’s on the risk factors unique to Twitter it has foundered.
Here are a dozen areas where Twitter has foreseen risks — but still failed to avoid them.
Twitter may have re-oriented itself and laid off part of its workforce to streamline its business, but it still doesn’t look like it is bringing in enough money to keep Wall Street happy.
Here is the biggest data point from the company’s fourth-quarter earnings report: according to the company, advertising revenue totaled $638 million, which was down slightly year-over-year. A reversal in its advertising growth is certainly not going to help Twitter’s case, which needs to be able to pitch itself to advertisers as a legitimate alternative to Facebook — and now Snap, which is expected to go public in March and already generated $400 million in 2016.
The iPad was a futuristic gadget when it debuted in April 2010, but the apps it presented offered a rather nostalgic revival of traditional media. Photos, graphics, magazines, and books optimized for its high-res screen featured a print-era visual polish that had been sorely missing from ad-crammed web pages and monochrome ebook readers.
One of the early hits was Flipboard, a graphical embodiment of social media that launched in July 2010. It turned Twitter and Facebook feeds into an online magazine by displaying the photos, articles, or other pages that people linked to. Previews of articles were laid out like items on a newspaper page; and flicking up on the screen triggered a visual effect that looked like flipping pages. Flipboard was among the top 10 iPad apps in its early days, according to rankings by AppAnnie. “It seemed to be a perfectly timed creature of the iPad age, of the tablet age,” says digital advertising consultant Ken Doctor, author of the book Newsonomics: Twelve New Trends That Will Shape the News You Get.
As first announced back in October, Twitter is about to shut down its looping video app and social network, Vine. The company had originally implied it would pull the Vine app from the app stores, but later said it would transition it to a new, low-maintenance app called Vine Camera instead. Ahead of this, Vine’s website and app were updated to allow you to export your Vines for posterity, if you couldn’t bear to lose them.
Vines can be exported until some point today from the vine.co website, or from the iOS or Android application. The Vine website currently says you can download your Vines “only until January 17, when the apps become the Vine Camera,” but the mobile app’s banner says the app will actually be updated tomorrow.
In any event, you have only hours left to grab your Vines before they’re gone.
Twitter is cutting 9% of its workforce – about 350 jobs – after reporting a sharp slowdown in revenue growth.
In the three months to September, revenues rose 8% to $616m. That was better than forecast, but lower than the 20% rise in the previous quarter.
The number of average monthly active users rose 3% to 317 million.
Last month, Twitter hired bankers ahead of a possible sale, but bids from potential suitors such as Google and Salesforce failed to materialise.
Shares in Twitter fell 7% earlier this month after Salesforce – considered to be the most likely bidder – said it had walked away from talks.
Jack Dorsey, chief executive, said he saw a “significant opportunity to increase growth” as the company improved the platform.
A few days before Twitter’s Sept. 8 board meeting, as the company’s finance team readied a presentation, it received conflicting directions on a crucial question. Should their slides reflect Twitter’s prospects as an independent company or delve into the benefits of getting acquired?
Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s chief executive officer, argued that the 10-year-old company should remain on its current course and work to capitalize on recent product improvements and success in streaming live video, people familiar with the discussions said. Ev Williams, a former CEO who has a history of clashing with Dorsey, was in favor of exploring a sale. Other directors agreed they had a fiduciary duty to consider that option. The board ultimately decided to consider takeover prospects after getting an expression of interest from a potential acquirer, which led it to hire Goldman Sachs and Allen & Co. to evaluate possible bids.
Twitter is offering some of its most influential users a cut of the money it makes off of their posts in a push to populate the platform with more in-house video.
Starting Tuesday, publishers and other high-profile accounts will be able to mark a box on each video tweet they send indicating that they’d like to tack on a pre-roll promotion, the social network announced. Twitter will then share with them a portion of the revenue it collects on those ads.
The deal will give users the lion’s share of the revenue — 70 percent — while Twitter takes 30 percent for itself, a person familiar with the arrangement said.
ANOTHER WEEK, ANOTHER eruption of abuse on Twitter. This time, it was Breitbart writer and self-anointed “supervillain of the Internet” Milo Yiannopoulos, whom the company finally banned after he stoked his followers into flooding Ghostbusters actress Leslie Jones with hateful and racist messages. Yiannopoulos went so far as to tweet out fake screenshots of things Jones supposedly but did not actually say on Twitter. In the end, Jones said she would leave Twitter altogether.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was apparently aware of the situation, tweeting at Jones as early as Monday evening. But Twitter still took another day to finally kick Yiannopolous off the platform after facing considerable public pressure. On Thursday afternoon, Jones posted a short tweet saying she was grateful for the public’s support. “People should be able to express diverse opinions and beliefs on Twitter,” Twitter said in a statement addressing the incident. “But no one deserves to be subjected to targeted abuse online, and our rules prohibit inciting or engaging in the targeted abuse or harassment of others.”
First off, I love this kind of story.
Let’s go back in time to 2009. Brian Acton was an accomplished programmer who’d checked the box with stints at both Apple and Yahoo.
Now he was looking for work–and he was coming up short. His Twitter feed tells the tale.
Acton had been the 44th employee at Yahoo, but he’d lost millions of his dot-com fortune when the bubble burst in 2000. Despite the bright-sided nature of his Tweets, the 37-year-old didn’t know what was next.
He toyed with a startup idea, but it wasn’t going anywhere. And as Marc Cenedella–founder of The Ladders, and more recently, Knowzen–wrote on Medium a few days ago, Acton…