Twitter disclosed earnings last night and the investor reaction was awful.
Twitter beat its revenue and profit expectations, but interim-CEO Jack Dorsey admitted that the company was failing to add new users and the whole platform was too complicated for most people to use. Twitter added only 2 million monthly active users, bringing its total to 304 million, in the quarter.
The stock plummeted 12% after hours. Shareholders realised, belatedly, that previous CEO Dick Costolo had failed in his mission to make Twitter easier to use — a promise he made on an earnings call over a year ago.
This morning, Macquarie analyst Ben Schachter and his team sent a note to investors that starts with a sentence that sums up everything you need to know about Twitter right now:
The bottom line for TWTR is that after nine years of its existence, my mother still doesn’t understand what it means to “hashtag” something, but she does understand what it means to “like” something.
This, of course, is a reference to the difference between Facebook and Twitter. Facebook is easy to use and has 1.4 billion users. Twitter is difficult to use and has less than a quarter of that.
Here’s the full paragraph from Macquarie, which is about as brutal a summation of Twitter’s problem as we’ve ever seen:
The bottom line for TWTR is that after nine years of its existence, my mother still doesn’t understand what it means to “hashtag” something, but she does understand what it means to “like” something. That is to say that Twitter is still too difficult to use and inaccessible to too many. It still isn’t a mass market product and it is unclear if it ever will be. User growth is the key issue. Monetisation isn’t the problem. The roadmap for monetisation has already been shown by Facebook; TWTR can just follow it (and, in fact, is). However, if it can’t improve the product and make it more interesting and accessible to more users, the stock simply will not work.
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