In their report, Twitter bluntly acknowledged the extent of the company’s problems:
Since our inception, we have incurred significant operating losses, and, as of December 31, 2015, we had an accumulated deficit of $2.09 billion. Although our revenue has grown rapidly, increasing from $28.3 million in 2010 to $2.22 billion in 2015, we expect that our revenue growth rate will slow in the future as a result of a variety of factors, including the decline in the growth rate of our user base.
Twitter has been an unprofitable company since before it went public in 2013, accruing more than $400 million prior to its stock market flotation. That loss-making record has not changed. However, after its IPO, those early losses increasingly look like a drop in the ocean. In 2015 alone, Twitter recorded a loss of $520 million, primarily as a result of stock-based compensation given to employees.
Twitter of course prefers to ignore these figures and measure their worth on “adjusted earnings,” which exclude the stock-based rewards noted above along with some other expenses, giving them a net income of $277 million in 2015. Even though this is what Wall Street would take as a more accurate figure, those same investors are still massively sceptical over Twitter, leading to its stock price dropping from $70 to $20 at the start of the year, as reported in Breitbart.
So why exactly is Wall Street lacking in confidence with Twitter? Their primary concern is its declining user base, which has not been helped by the dramatic loss of confidence amongst many of the platform’s more political users.
Twitter is currently waging war on conservative users, whilst ignoring real threats like ISIS. Breitbart Tech editor Milo Yiannopoulos was firstly suspended, then unverified. Shadowbans silence those who question friends of Twitter’s CEO. A new “trust and safety” council has been implemented to stop “harassment”. High profile conservatives with large followings, such as Adam Baldwin, have quit the platform in protest.
And now, even anti-establishment progressives are starting to ask questions about Twitter’s political biases. Supporters of Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders recently accused the platform of censoring hashtags on behalf of Hillary Clinton, after an anti-Clinton hashtag fell of the site’s “trending” list despite beating other trending hashtags in activity.
Twitter has also alienated long-term users with a series of radical departures from its tried and tested features. They rolled out a new timeline system based not on chronological order, but “relevance,” despite massive user backlash. They also changed the site’s “favourites” feature to a Facebook-style system of “likes,” to considerable user discontent.
In their report, Twitter stated that they wanted to “demonstrate our value proposition to a larger audience”. There have yet to be any signs that their efforts are paying off.
Jack Hadfield is a British libertarian writer who just can’t control his cishet white male privilege. You can follow him on Twitter here: @ToryBastard_.