Do you use Twitter?
If you answered “no” or “sometimes,” you’re in the great majority. In fact, more people around the world spend time on Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram than they do on the microblogging service.
Worse, relatively few consumers feel the need to sign up. That’s bad news for Twitter, which has seen its growth of monthly active users grind almost to a halt.
That’s the problem CEO Jack Dorsey is working hard to reverse. To do that, though, he has to freshen the look and functions of a 9-year-old service that has become stale. Despite Twitter’s outsize cultural influence, its claims to distinction are immediacy and a 140-word character limit to how much you can say. Now Dorsey, who was Twitter’s co-founder as well as its first chief executive, is rebooting the service to be more visually compelling.
Earlier this month, the company updated the service with Moments, a new feature of curated tweets, videos and images of major trending events, such as concerts, sports contests and breaking news. Moments also makes it easier for users to follow collections of curated tweets, instead of having to discover other members almost by accident. This month Dorsey also told employees he is streamlining operations and reorganizing Twitter’s product and engineering teams to focus on “the experiences which will have the greatest impact.” In addition, he’s making a concerted effort to woo developers to start writing apps for the messaging service.
All these efforts have one aim: To make Twitter more inviting and engaging for a mainstream audience and, in turn, attract more advertisers.
On Tuesday, Twitter reported third quarter results that indicate that achieving Dorsey’s goal will take time and patience.
For the three months ended in September, the number of people actively using Twitter every month rose 1.2 percent from the previous quarter to 320 million.
The company also reported a profit, excluding some costs, of 10 cents a share on sales of $569 million. That beat Wall Street’s estimates. Analysts on average expected a profit, minus some costs, of 5 cents a share on $559.8 million in revenue.
After adding expenses back in, Twitter posted a loss of 20 cents per share.
“We continued to see strong financial performance this quarter, as well as meaningful progress across our three areas of focus: ensuring more disciplined execution, simplifying our services, and better communicating the value of our platform,” Dorsey said in a statement.
For the current quarter, Twitter forecast revenue of $695 million to $710 million. That dramatically missed analysts’ estimates of $740.2 million.
Investors weren’t happy with either the forecast or Twitter’s progress in adding users, sending shares down more than 11 percent, to $31.34, in after-hours trading.