Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Trump tweets don't help Twitter revenue

Published:Friday | April 28, 2017 | 4:00 AM
US President Donald Trump.

You'd think Twitter would be able to milk its status as President Donald Trump's megaphone. But the company still faces stagnant user growth, has never made a profit and even reported a quarterly revenue decline on Wednesday, a first since going public.

Trump's frequent tweets ricochet well beyond his 28 million Twitter followers. Anything he tweets can serve as fodder for social media, TV news shows and, often, late-night comedy. Analysts say Twitter's user engagement - how often people respond, retweet or 'like', for instance - likely benefited from "political discourse" in the first quarter.

The problem: The people already on Twitter may well be using it more, but America's first true 'Twitter President' hasn't inspired others to sign up for Twitter en masse.

By the numbers

Twitter said Wednesday it had an average of 328 million monthly users during the first quarter, a three per cent increase from 319 million during the previous quarter. By contrast, Facebook has 1.89 billion and Facebook-owned Instagram has 600 million monthly users as of December, the latest available. More users, of course, mean more advertising revenue for the companies, since businesses try to reach as many eyeballs as possible.

Twitter has never turned a profit, and for the first time since going public in 2013, it reported a decline in revenue from the previous year. Its revenue was $548.3 million, down eight per cent.

Net loss was $61.6 million, or nine cents per share, compared with a loss of $79.7 million, or 12 cents per share, a year earlier. Excluding stock compensation expenses and other one-time items, the company earned 11 cents per share in the latest quarter, down from 15 cents a year earlier.

Twitter beat Wall Street expectations for adjusted income of two cents on revenue of $517.3 million, according to FactSet. Twitter's shares jumped $1.71, or nearly 12 per cent, to $16.37 in morning trading.

Join the conversation

With its slogan 'it's what's happening', Twitter has been trying to corner the market for real-time information, to be a place where people can go to find out what's going on in the world and talk about it with friends and strangers.

And it's not just politics, but also sports events like the March Madness college basketball tournament or World Cup soccer, not to mention the stuff seemingly made for Twitter, such as the outrage over the dragging of a paying United passenger off a full flight to make room for crew. Video was shared widely on Twitter, as were jokes and anger towards the airline.

- AP