Twitter posts 1st quarterly profit

AFP
Twitter yesterday reported its first-ever quarterly profit, in a key milestone for the social network which has been lagging for years against fast-growing rivals.
AFP

Twitter yesterday reported its first-ever quarterly profit, in a key milestone for the social network which has been lagging for years against fast-growing rivals.

San Francisco-based Twitter said it earned US$91 million in the fourth quarter, the first positive net income since going public in 2013.

Revenue was up 2 percent from a year ago to a better-than-expected US$732 million.

The number of monthly active users was 330 million, flat from the prior quarter but up 4 percent from a year earlier.

While Twitter has built a solid core base of celebrities, politicians and journalists, it has failed to achieve the broader appeal of Facebook and other social platforms, hurting its ability to bring in ad revenues.

The profitability is an important achievement for Twitter, which has lost money consistently since its public offering, sparking speculation on whether it needed to sell itself to keep operating.

Chief Executive Jack Dorsey welcomed “a strong finish to the year,” and added “I’m proud of the steady progress we made in 2017, and confident in our path ahead.”

The network has stepped up efforts to boost its user base and engagement, adding streaming video partnerships, doubling the character limit on tweets to 280 and making it easier to create “tweetstorms” by stringing messaging together.

Dorsey told a conference call that by relaxing the limits, “it minimizes some of the complexities” of using the platform and added, “more importantly it is enabling people to be more expressive about what’s on their minds.”

Jennifer Grygiel, a Syracuse University communications professor who follows social media, said the results are an important milestone for Twitter.

“It shows that Twitter has staying power,” Grygiel said. “A lot of people have had doubts for several years.”

Despite Twitter’s problems these past few years, “it is unlike any other social media platform,” Grygiel said.

“It really is the fastest newswire service we’ve ever seen,” she said. “Influencers and news junkies come to Twitter because of that microblogging function that we don’t see in other places.”

Earlier this month, BTIG Research analyst Richard Greenfield raised his outlook for Twitter, saying that “management has refocused the company on its core product (and) pushed their product team to iterate far faster than ever before in the company’s history.”

Greenfield said Twitter’s use of artificial intelligence had “made the Twitter user experience more compelling by showing consumers the tweets they care most.”


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