Of all the social media stocks, Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) has been the most frustrating for investors.
The platform is clearly valuable as a hub for news dissemination and discussion on a range of issues, highlighted in part by former President Trump, and it occupies a unique niche within the broader social media industry.
As a business, however, Twitter has been full of unmet potential. Management has struggled to explain the platform’s purpose, and safety and harassment have been significant challenges. Ad targeting is lagging, and the executive team has seen high turnover.
Image source: Getty Images.
After years of spinning its wheels, however, Twitter now appears to be hitting its stride. The company is rolling out new products like Spaces, a competitor to the audio-chat app ClubHouse, a version of Snapchat Stories called Twitter Fleets, a Substack-competitor through its acquisition of Revue, and Super Follows, a way for popular accounts to monetize themselves with things like exclusive content. Twitter also confidently ejected Trump off its platform in January, and faced virtually none of the backlash that the market initially expected.
Investors have responded to the momentum the company has been building, and the stock has doubled since the beginning of 2020.
In its fourth quarter, monetizable daily active users rose 27% to 192 million, and revenue jumped 28% to $1.29 billion. Operating income was up 64% to $252 million, and earnings per share increased from $0.15 to $0.27. Shares jumped again at the end of February when the company said at its Investor Day conference that it would double revenue from $3.7 billion in 2020 to $7.5 billion by 2023 and grow its user base to 315 million.
Data from SimilarWeb, a web traffic data service, showed that Twitter’s traffic remained strong in the first quarter even as the economy began to reopen, which was expected to take attention from social media portals.
Like the rest of the social media industry, Twitter benefited from an uptick in screen time during the pandemic, along with advertisers shifting their budgets to digital channels. However, Twitter appears to have outperformed peers like Facebook and Pinterest in the first quarter, and key metrics have been moving in the right direction. According to SimilarWeb, visit duration was up 6% year-over-year and flat with the fourth quarter, a bullish indicator as engagement in that period was helped by the presidential election, a rise in coronavirus cases, and the holiday season. Total site visits were also up 30% year-over-year, and flat from the fourth quarter.
More importantly, interest in advertising on Twitter was also up. Visits to Twitter’s ads onboarding page increased 11% from the fourth quarter, likely showing an increase in ad spending from the seasonally strong fourth quarter, or at least increased interest from new advertisers.
By contrast, SimilarWeb found that unique visits to Facebook declined slightly on a year-over-year basis, and Pinterest also saw a decline from the second half following an earlier spike in interest in the image discovery site.
What it means for investors
Digital advertising has proven itself to be a high-margin business at scale. The successes of Google and Facebook have clearly demonstrated that, and those effects are now becoming visible at smaller social media companies like Twitter and Pinterest.
Twitter is a unique platform with hundreds of millions of engaged users. There are ample opportunities for the company to monetize and expand with products like Space and Super Follows. Its momentum has also carried past the Trump era, which is promising as it shows that the platform is more than just a megaphone for newsmakers.
There’s still work to do, but the business is in the best position it’s been in during its history, and based on the numbers from SimilarWeb, investors should expect a strong quarter when the company reports on April 27. Analysts see revenue growth of 26.9% to $1.03 billion, and earnings per share rising from $0.11 to $0.14 . On the heels of a strong quarter from Snap and broader signs of an awakening in digital advertising, don’t be surprised if Twitter beats those numbers.
This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.
Jeremy Bowman owns shares of Facebook, Pinterest, and Snap Inc. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
Elon Musk Says He’ll Pay $11 Billion in Taxes in 2021 But Twitter Wants ‘Proof’
Elon Musk took to Twitter to clarify once and for all that he will be paying a whopping $11 billion as taxes this year.
If the number of times Elon Musk could count when someone has asked him to pay the full taxes, he would be a very rich..wait, never mind. The Tesla boss is rich beyond any private individual has been in history, reports said.
Musk has increasingly been facing criticism from many politicians and many others who insist he has not been paying taxes as compared to the profits his companies have been making. On Sunday, the SpaceX CEO took to Twitter to share that he will be paying a whopping $11 billion as taxes.
For those wondering, I will pay over $11 billion in taxes this year— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 20, 2021
But some of the questions did not stop. One person tweeted how they needed to see Musk’s tax returns while yet another asked how much percentage was that of his total income.
A few were, however scathing of the government who thought they will add that amount to their pockets rather than using it for some proper development.
Wow that’s enough to give each person in the world almost $2 million but instead the government will just stick it in their pockets— greg (@greg16676935420) December 20, 2021
Why not $200 billion? Asking for a Senator— litquidity (@litcapital) December 20, 2021
Earlier this week, Democratic US Senator Elizabeth Warren has tweeted to say that Musk should pay taxes and stop “freeloading off everyone else” after Time magazine named him its “person of the year”.
In response, Musk shot four tweets in which he said that the senator reminded him of a friend’s angry mom who yelled at everybody. He tweeted, ““And if you opened your eyes for 2 seconds, you would realize I will pay more taxes than any American in history this year.” “Don’t spend it all at once … oh wait you did already.”
He added further, “You remind me of when I was a kid and my friend’s angry Mom would just randomly yell at everyone for no reason.”
Musk responded by saying that he “will pay more taxes than any American in history this year”. This Twitter exchange left netizens divided as even though many supported Warren and agreed that Musk should pay more taxes, others felt that he was already doing enough.
Musk’s Tesla is worth about $1 trillion. Over the last few weeks, he has sold nearly $14 billion worth of Tesla shares.
The Tesla boss has been pushing for his colonize Mars agenda for years now, and has made it very clear in some occasions that he would rather spend the money on putting humanity on the red planet, than pay his taxes. “My plan,” the SpaceX founder tweeted about his fortune, “is to use the money to get humanity to Mars and preserve the light of consciousness.”
Twitter Admits Policy ‘Errors’ After Far-Right Abuse Its New Rules of Posting Pictures
Twitter’s new picture permission policy was aimed at combating online abuse, but US activists and researchers said Friday that far-right backers have employed it to protect themselves from scrutiny and to harass opponents.
Even the social network admitted the rollout of the rules, which say anyone can ask Twitter to take down images of themselves posted without their consent, was marred by malicious reports and its teams’ own errors.
It was just the kind of trouble anti-racism advocates worried was coming after the policy was announced this week.
“Anyone with a Twitter account should be reporting doxxing posts from the following accounts,” the message said, with a list of dozens of Twitter handles.
Gwen Snyder, an organizer and researcher in Philadelphia, said her account was blocked this week after a report to Twitter about a series of 2019 photos she said showed a local political candidate at a march organized by extreme-right group Proud Boys.
Rather than go through an appeal with Twitter she opted to delete the images and alert others to what was happening.
“Twitter moving to eliminate (my) work from their platform is incredibly dangerous and is going to enable and embolden fascists,” she told AFP.
But the rules don’t apply to “public figures or individuals when media and accompanying Tweets are shared in the public interest or add value to public discourse.”
By Friday, Twitter noted the roll out had been rough: “We became aware of a significant amount of coordinated and malicious reports, and unfortunately, our enforcement teams made several errors.”
“We’ve corrected those errors and are undergoing an internal review to make certain that this policy is used as intended,” the firm added.
Jack Dorsey Post Twitter Is Chasing His Crypto, Fintech Dream
At a packed Miami conference in June, Jack Dorsey, mused in front of thousands of attendees about where his real passion lay: “If I weren’t at Square or Twitter, I’d be working on Bitcoin.”
On Monday, Dorsey made good on one part of that, announcing he would leave Twitter for the second time, handing the CEO position to a 10-year veteran at the firm. The 45-year-old entrepreneur, who is often described as an enigma with varied interests from meditation to yoga to fashion design, plans to pursue his passion which include focusing on running Square and doing more philanthropic work, according to a source familiar with his plan.
Well before the surprise news, Dorsey had laid the groundwork for his next chapter, seeding both companies with cryptocurrency-related projects.
Underlying Dorsey’s broader vision is the principle of “decentralisation,” or the idea that technology and finance should not be concentrated among a handful of gatekeepers, as it is now, but should, instead, be steered by the hands of the many, either people or entities.
The concept has played out at Square, which has built a division devoted to working on projects and awarding grants with the aim of growing Bitcoin’s popularity globally. Bitcoin price in India stood at Rs. 44.52 lakh as of 12:50pm IST on December 1.
Dorsey has been a longtime proponent of Bitcoin, and the appeal is that the cryptocurrency will allow for private and secure transactions with the value of Bitcoin unrelated to any government.
The idea has also underpinned new projects at Twitter, where Dorsey tapped a top lieutenant – and now the company’s new CEO Parag Agrawal – to oversee a team that is attempting to construct a decentralised social media protocol, which will allow different social platforms to connect with one another, similar to the way email providers operate.
The project called Bluesky will aim to allow users control over the types of content they see online, removing the “burden” on companies like Twitter to enforce a global policy to fight abuse or misleading information, Dorsey said in 2019 when he announced Bluesky.
Bitcoin has also figured prominently at both of his companies. Square became one of the first public companies to own Bitcoin assets on its balance sheet, having invested $220 million (roughly Rs. 1,650 crore) in the cryptocurrency.
In August, Square created a new business unit called TBD to focus on Bitcoin. The company is also planning to build a hardware wallet for Bitcoin, a Bitcoin mining system, as well as a decentralised Bitcoin exchange.
Twitter allows users to tip their favourite content creators with Bitcoin and has been testing integrations with non-fungible tokens (NFTs), a type of digital asset that allows people to collect unique digital art.
Analysts see the transition as a positive signal for Square, the fintech platform he co-founded in 2009. Square’s core Cash App, after a bull run in its share in 2020, has experienced slower growth in the most recent quarter. It is also trying to digest the $29 billion (roughly Rs. 2,17,240 crore) acquisition of Buy Now Pay Later provider Afterpay, its largest acquisition ever.
But these ambitions will not pay off until years from now, analysts cautioned.
“The blockchain platform they’re trying to develop is great but also fraught with technical challenges and difficult to scale for consumers. I think he’ll focus more on Square and crypto will be part of that,” said Christopher Brendler, an analyst at DA Davidson.
© Thomson Reuters 2021
Interested in cryptocurrency? We discuss all things crypto with WazirX CEO Nischal Shetty and WeekendInvesting founder Alok Jain on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.
Cryptocurrency is an unregulated digital currency, not a legal tender and subject to market risks. The information provided in the article is not intended to be and does not constitute financial advice, trading advice or any other advice or recommendation of any sort offered or endorsed by NDTV. NDTV shall not be responsible for any loss arising from any investment based on any perceived recommendation, forecast or any other information contained in the article.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)