As per Twitter:
“In light of the proposed transaction with Mr. Musk, as is customary during the pendency of an acquisition, Twitter will not be hosting a conference call, issuing a shareholder letter, or providing financial guidance in conjunction with its first quarter 2022 earnings release. For further detail and discussion of our financial performance please refer to our upcoming quarterly report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended March 31, 2022.”
That also means no graphics displaying Twitter’s performance, just raw numbers, in text form, which is a little less interesting, though the data remains the same.
First off, looking at usage, Twitter’s average monetizable daily active user count is now at 229 million, up from 217 million in Q4. That’s actually far better growth momentum than it has seen in the last two reports, with 12 million more users coming to Twitter in the period.
That’s also despite Twitter being banned in Russia amid the invasion of Ukraine – while it also comes despite Twitter admitting that it had been miscounting its mDAU stats for two years due to an oversight on its behalf.
“In March of 2019, we launched a feature that allowed people to link multiple separate accounts together in order to conveniently switch between accounts. An error was made at that time, such that actions taken via the primary account resulted in all linked accounts being counted as mDAU. This resulted in an overstatement of mDAU from Q1’19 through Q4’21.”
Twitter’s also provided an overview of exactly how far off its mDAU counts have been as a result.
So it was overstating its user counts by around 2 million, on average, due to the error. Which in most other circumstances would be a bigger issue, but right now, Twitter being where it is, it’s not a major story, with the pending Musk takeover eclipsing pretty much everything else.
On the revenue front, Twitter brought in $1.2 billion for the quarter, a 16% year-over-year increase, which is down on expectations. Some of that has been impacted by the war in Ukraine, but even then, you can see from this chart how $1.2 for Q1 is not shifting the needle in any major way for the app.
Twitter also notes that subscription and other revenue (including data licensing) totaled $94 million, which is a decrease of 31% year-over-year. That would suggest that new options like Twitter Blue are not gaining any really any traction as yet, and may not end up developing into the supplementary income streams that Twitter might have hoped.
Twitter also notes that given the pending acquisition by Musk, it’s not providing any forward looking guidance, and it’s withdrawing all previously provided goals and outlook.
I mean, really, what do you say about Twitter’s progress, and its potential for the future?
Again, it has continued to add users, though not at what would be considered ‘strong’ growth rates, while its attempts at product enhancements and improvements haven’t really shifted the needle, with the percentage of relative increase over time remaining largely unchanged.
Despite being the platform of choice for the former President, Twitter couldn’t make itself a more essential app, and despite trying out Stories and adding new subscription tools, it’s not changing its perception, at least not in any major way.
So what can Twitter to do get more people logging in more often, and spending more time engaging within the tweet stream?
A lot of it, at least in my experience, comes down to its algorithms, and highlighting the most relevant content to each individual user. Despite having a heap of data to go on, with over 500 million tweets sent every day, Twitter has never been great at translating those insights into a more engaging, compulsive tweet experience.
The Spaces tab is the best example right now – tap across to the Spaces display and you’ll see a raft of in-progress broadcasts, which, unless you’re really into crypto and/or NFTs, probably aren’t heavily aligned with your interests.
Part of the issue here is the content available – Twitter can’t show you Spaces that aren’t happening – but you can expand this also to Topic recommendations, People to Follow, the Explore tab, live-streams, etc.
Twitter has the content – again, 500 million tweets are being created every day – but it’s never been able to show you a compulsive stream of content, matched to your personal interests. Which is what TikTok does so well, and what other platforms have generally been better at. Twitter still needs to work on this, which also means that it needs to filter out the bots that flood trending streams, which can also dilute the quality of the tweet experience.
Can Elon fix this? He seems to think that he can, but whether Musk’s approach works, or is workable for the app, remains to be seen.
Becoming the platform of ‘free speech’ is something that many users will gleefully support, but how that looks in reality, at a time when every other social network is now taking its obligations even more seriously on this front, is also an unknown factor.
Essentially, Twitter is in an increasingly difficult position – it either sticks to its guns, and pushes ahead on its slow, but arguably steady path, or it takes more radical action in the hopes of ignoring more interest.
Which path is best? We’ll soon find out.
Elon Musk’s Team Asks for More Data to Complete Assessment of Twitter Bots
Okay, let’s just check in on the latest with the Twitter/Elon Musk takeover saga, and where things are placed to close out the week.
According to the latest reports, Musk’s team recently asked Twitter for more tweet info, in order to help it make an accurate assessment of bot activity in the app. This comes after Musk questioned Twitter’s claim that bots and fake accounts make up only 5% of its active user base, and said that his Twitter takeover deal could not go ahead unless Twitter could produce more evidence to support this figure.
Which Twitter did, by providing Musk with access to its ‘full firehose’ of tweets over a given period, which it shared with Musk’s team back on June 8th. Musk’s group has now had that data for a couple of weeks, but this week, it said that this info is not enough to go on, and that it needs even more insight from Twitter to make its judgment.
And after initially resisting calls for more data access, Twitter has now reportedly relented and handed over more tweet data access to Musk’s team.
Which may or may not be a concern, depending on how you see it.
In its initial data dump, Twitter reportedly gave Musk’s team info on:
- Total user tweets (within a given time period)
- Data on which devices were used
As noted, Musk’s team says that this has not provided it with the insight that it needs to conduct an accurate analysis of potential bot activity, so Twitter has now provided Musk with more ‘real-time API data’.
It’s not clear whether that means that Twitter has provided everything that its API systems can provide, but that could mean that Musk’s team can now access:
- Real-time info on tweet text and visual elements/attachments
- Data on retweets, replies, and quote Tweets for each
- Data on tweet author, mentioned users, tagged locations, hashtag and cashtag symbols, etc
- Date, time, location, device info
That should satisfy any analytical needs to uncover potential bot trends, and get a better handle on Twitter’s bot problem, though it also means that Musk has all your tweet info – which, again, it’s worth noting, Twitter up till now had been hesitant to provide.
I’m sure it’s fine. Musk’s team is beholden to disclosure laws around such, so it’s not like they can do anything much with that info anyway, in a legal sense. But the idea that the sometimes erratic Elon Musk now has all the tweets could be a little concerning for some.
But Twitter likely had to provide what it can, and if Musk is going to become CEO of the app soon anyway, he’s going to have access to all of that data either way.
Should be fine. No problems – no need to go deleting all your DMs (which are likely not included in the data that Twitter has provided at this stage).
According to reports, Musk’s team says that it now has the info it needs to make its assessment of bot activity, which should see the deal move forward (or not) sometime soon.
Of course, no one knows what exactly is going to happen next, and whether Musk’s team will look to renegotiate, or even back out of the deal entirely as a result of its bot analysis. But it does seem like, one way or another, Musk will be forced to go ahead with the $44 billion transaction, with Twitter’s past bot reporting methodology already accepted by the SEC, giving it legal grounding to argue that it’s acted in good faith, regardless of what Musk’s team finds.
The next steps then, according to Musk, would be securing debt financing and gaining Twitter shareholder approval, clearing the last hurdles for Musk to change the app’s name to ‘Telsla Social’, and add a million references to ‘420’ into the platforms various terms and conditions.
Because of the memes, because weed jokes are still funny to the richest man in the world – because he vacillates between inspired genius and a massive nerd who now gets to play out some fantasy of being cool.
Or something. Who knows what goes on in Elon Musk’s head – which is also why most are hesitant to bet against him, as nobody knows if and how he might be able to fix Twitter, and whether this is a great investment or a massive disaster.
It seems like we may soon find out. Maybe. Who knows. Either way, the memes should be great.
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