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X Reports New Usage Insights To Mark the First Year of Musk’s Takeover

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New Analysis Reveals How X is Evolving its Feed Algorithm, and What it’s Looking to Emphasize

Honestly, it’s hard to know what exactly the status of Elon’s Musk’s “X” project currently is, due to conflicting reports about its performance.

Today marks a year since Musk took ownership of Twitter, which he’s since re-branded to X, as part of his long-held vision to create a payments-centered “everything app”, modeled on Chinese messaging platforms like WeChat, which have become essential connection tools for billions of users.

Musk believes that X can become the same, but again, right now, it’s not entirely clear how X is developing towards that division.

Based on insights shared by X CEO Linda Yaccarino, everything’s going well, with her latest blog post claiming that:

  • X has over 500 million monthly active users
  • X users spend 7.8 billion active minutes on X per day
  • The average user spends more than 32 minutes per day in the app
  • Around 1.5 million new accounts are being created every day
  • All major ad agencies have reversed their pause guidance against advertising on X
  • 90 of X’s top 100 ad spenders from a year ago have now resumed campaigns

But as noted, many of these stats are refuted by third-party analysis, or even a basic dig into X’s own reported numbers.

On active users, according to data from SimilarWeb (published this week by Axios), X’s monthly active user count has actually fallen by 14.8% globally, and by 17.8% in the U.S. year-over-year, for the month of September.

Last September, X had around 238 million daily active users, which likely means that X was serving around 439 million monthly actives, based on average DAU to MAU variation across social apps. That would mean that, based on SimilarWeb’s indicators, X would currently be seeing around 378 million monthly active users, not 500 million, as X claims.

Other third-party analysis tells a similar tale. Data from Apptopia suggests that X currently has around 223 million monthly actives, and 121 million daily users, with the app seeing a drastic decline in both usage and downloads since the rebrand to X in July.

But at the same time, neither SimilarWeb nor Apptopia can access to the full data insights, with only X having complete oversight. Though their figures are generally indicative, which seems to suggest that X probably doesn’t have 500 million monthly users at this stage.

But we don’t know, because X is now a private company, and as such, it’s not beholden to SEC rules around disclosure. So we only have X’s word, and X says it’s 500 million.

Make of that what you will.

In terms of average time spent in the app per day, X itself has reported that it currently has 253 million daily actives, which would mean that if users are spending a cumulative 7.8 billion minutes per day in the app, as reported by Yaccarino, then the average time spent is actually 30.8 minutes per user, not 32 minutes per day as Yaccarino claims.

If the average time spent per user is actually 32 minutes per day, as X says, then that would mean that X is now serving 244 million daily actives, which would mean that it’s lost 7 million DAU since March.

And if that’s true, then those 1.5 million new account sign-ups that the app’s seeing are not sticking around, because X should be adding 45 million new users every month at that rate.

But it’s losing daily actives? Doesn’t seem like a great indicator of success.

X also claims that all of its major ad partners are coming back, but Ebiquity, which works with 70 of the world’s top 100 spending brands, claims that only two of its clients have resumed X ad spend. X has also started selling ad inventory through Google Ads to fill slots, which would appear to suggest that if these brands are returning, they’re spending a lot less.

But again, we don’t know, because X is the only one with all the data, and the only means of knowing for sure how X is going will be its financial performance. Which will also remain unclear, till Musk and Co. decide to report those figures.

And that might only come when X is really struggling, though it does seem somewhat indicative of a problem when the banks that loaned Elon Musk $13 billion for his acquisition are now anticipating a significant loss, as they try to offload the debt.

Fidelity, which itself owns a stake in the company, has cut X’s valuation by two-thirds, which means the platform would currently be worth around $15 million, as opposed to the $44 billion Musk paid for it.

So while X’s team is trying to paint a rosy picture, every external analysis suggests otherwise. And maybe they’re all wrong, but it does seem like there’s something not quite on the nose about the data being shared.

On other elements, Yaccarino also says that each day, “150,000 new long form posts are published, receiving more than 3 billion impressions.”

Long-form content is a significant departure from what Twitter had been, which hasn’t really seemed like a great fit, but maybe there is an audience for it, based on these figures. Though again, the detail is absent, in regards to what actually defines a long-form post in this context (i.e. is that any post that you have to tap into to read, or is it only posts of a certain word count?).

Yaccarino also says that the average X Premium subscriber spends three times longer on the platform than a non-subscriber. Which is zero surprise at all, but that would also mean that this segment would be skewing the average time spent numbers, on aggregate.

In terms of coming features, Yaccarino has said that full-screen, vertical video ads will soon be displayed within X’s new immersive playback mode, which is when you tap through on a video and scroll up to keep seeing more. Yaccarino says that 100 million people now view video content within this dedicated feed every day, with Gen Z being the most active consumers of this process.

Finally, Yaccarino says that its in-stream payments process is in development, with X being granted money transmitter licenses in several U.S. states. As we’ve reported, X has been granted payments licenses in some states, but it still has a long way to go in gaining full approval on this front.

I don’t know, it feels almost too skeptical to question every one of X’s claims, but again, this is based on external analysis and reporting, at a broad scale, which contradicts Yaccarino’s various notes. Maybe they’re all wrong, maybe X is actually doing awesome, and maybe Threads, which is now up to 100 million users, is having no impact at all on X usage.

But that seems very unlikely, when every other mode of analysis and insight is reporting the same.

We’ll find out, as X continues on its path.



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3 Things You’ll Regret Not Knowing Before Buying Meta Platforms Stock Right Now

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3 Things You'll Regret Not Knowing Before Buying Meta Platforms Stock Right Now

It’s been a wonderful time to be a shareholder in Meta Platforms (META -0.43%). After hitting a low around the start of November 2022, the business has seen its shares skyrocket nearly fivefold (as of Feb. 20). Investor enthusiasm is through the roof.

Despite this monster performance, the FAANG stock, which is near its all-time highs, trades at a forward price-to-earnings ratio of just 23.5 right now. This might prompt you to rush to buy shares.

But before you do, here are three things you must know about this dominant tech giant.

Massive, but growing

Meta Platforms owns and operates some of the most popular social media services on the face of the planet.

Between its various platforms — like Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger, and Threads — the business counted a whopping 4 billion monthly active users (MAUs) as of the end of last year. This means that almost half of the world’s 8.1 billion people interact with a Meta digital property once a month. That’s hard to wrap your head around.

While it’s reasonable to assume the company can’t get any larger, it’s worth pointing out that MAUs were up 6% year over year in the fourth quarter. Because the U.S., Canada, and European markets are much more mature, Meta is finding success posting better growth in other geographies, like the Asia-Pacific region.

This massive scale has resulted in powerful network effects. The more users on a particular social media platform, the more valuable it is to users. Anyone can start a new app tomorrow, but it would be almost impossible to expand the way Meta’s services have, which protects its competitive standing.

Digital advertising is key

Providing free services to billions of users means that Meta, unsurprisingly, is a digital advertising powerhouse. Of the $135 billion in revenue it brought in in 2023, 98% came from selling ads. This puts it behind Alphabet in the global rankings when it comes to digital ad revenue.

Because of the valuable data Meta is able to extract from its gigantic user base, it’s no wonder that businesses of all sizes find it extremely effective to target audiences using the company’s platforms. The ongoing integration of artificial intelligence (AI) features will only improve this for marketers.

The downside is that the digital advertising market has shown itself to be somewhat cyclical. When interest rates rise, inflationary pressures persist, consumer spending gets pressured, and everyone is uncertain where the economy is headed, it makes sense that ad spending will be among the first thing that executives cut. Meta reported a 1% decline in revenue in 2022 thanks to these headwinds. However, things picked up in a huge way last year: Sales jumped 16%.

It also helps that digital ad revenue drove a fantastic 54% operating margin for the family of apps segment in Q4. Add this to Meta’s net cash position of $47 billion, and there should be zero concern about the business being able to navigate any unfavorable macro conditions.

Meta’s metaverse ambitions

Love him or hate him, credit goes to Meta’s founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, for building one of the world’s most valuable and dominant enterprises in just two decades. By being a forward-thinking innovator, he’s always trying to position the business for whatever tech shifts that might come.

Zuckerberg thinks that next shift could be the metaverse. As a result, he’s focused heavily on creating new hardware and software products in the hopes of attracting 1 billion users to spend and interact in virtual worlds.

He’s putting his money where his mouth is. Meta’s Reality Labs division posted an operating loss of $16 billion in 2023, and more losses are expected. And it doesn’t make much money, producing $4 billion in revenue combined in the last two years.

But given a proven track record of success, as well as vast financial resources from the company’s thriving social media apps, investors should doubt Zuckerberg at their own risk.

If you’re looking to scoop up shares of Meta, you now know three very important aspects of the business that can lead to a more informed decision.

Randi Zuckerberg, a former director of market development and spokeswoman for Facebook and sister to Meta Platforms CEO Mark Zuckerberg, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Neil Patel has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Alphabet and Meta Platforms. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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X Expands Audio and Video Calls to Non-Paying Users

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New Report Finds That X May Be Inflating its Ad Performance Results

Look, I don’t know why this would be considered revolutionary or an advance, or even a significant step in any direction really. But for some reason, Elon Musk and his team believe that facilitating audio and video calls in X is a really big deal.

And now, it’s expanding its audio and video calling features to all non-Premium subscribers in the app, so you don’t even have to be a paying user to access the new connection options.

X launched audio and video calls with X Premium subscribers on iOS last October, then brought them to paying users on Android last month. And now, it’s expanding access once again.

But, like, you can already make audio and video calls on your phone, on WhatsApp, in Messenger, etc. Like, nobody is hanging out waiting to be able to make calls on X.

But Elon says that he’s getting rid of his phone number, because X will now replace his telecommunications, and given the reflexive head-nodding among his most dedicated disciples in response to his every utterance, no doubt many of them will also follow suit.

But I’m guessing not many other people will actually care.

But, if you do, soon, you’ll be able to kick off an audio or video call with your X connections, and there could be some value within that for brands that are looking to use the platform for customer service.

I suspect most X users won’t even notice, but for those who are conducting a lot of connection activity in the app, it is worth considering as a strategic expansion.



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Reddit files to go public as ‘RDDT’ on NYSE

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Online discussion platform Reddit is looking to ramp up revenue from ads, commerce, and allowing access to its data for training of large language models powering artificial intelligence

Online discussion platform Reddit is looking to ramp up revenue from ads, commerce, and allowing access to its data for training of large language models powering artificial intelligence – Copyright AFP/File SAMUEL ALABI

Glenn CHAPMAN

Reddit on Thursday told US stock regulators that it plans to go public on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “RDDT.”

Reddit did not provide details regarding the number or price of shares nor when the initial public offering would occur.

Co-founder and chief executive Steve Huffman said in a letter included with the filing that money raised by the share offering would be used to make Reddit a stronger, bigger company.

Founded in 2005, the platform is home to more than 100,000 online communities devoted to a sweeping range of topics and was visited by an average of 76 million people daily in December, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

“They come to Reddit to participate in a vibrant community, a constantly evolving place where anyone, anywhere, can connect with like-minded people and dive into any topic,” Huffman said in the letter.

“The conversation ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous, the trivial to the existential, the comic to the serious.”

Communities on the platform are referred to as “subreddits,” and one devoted to music star Taylor Swift eclipsed a million members last year, according to the filing.

Reddit had a net loss of $90.8 million in 2023 on revenue of $804 million, according to the filing.

Reddit is known for “Ask Me Anything” sessions during which influential people ranging from tech titans and famous athletes to celebrities and politicians field questions from users.

A Wall Street Bets subreddit fueled a GameStop share runup in 2021 in a frenzy that inspired a US congressional inquiry and a film titled “Dumb Money.”

Huffman credited Reddit communities with “campaigning for net neutrality in 2015, starting the March for Science in 2017, or standing up for retail investors, as r/wallstreetbets did in 2021.”

– AI training –

Plans to bring in money include advertising and licensing data for training large language models (LLMs) that power artificial intelligence, according to the filing.

“Reddit’s vast and unmatched archive of real, timely, and relevant human conversation on literally any topic is an invaluable dataset for a variety of purposes, including search, AI training, and research,” Huffman wrote.

“We expect our data advantage and intellectual property to continue to be a key element in the training of future LLMs.”

Last year moderators of communities at Reddit held a major protest over new fees for developer access to the platform.

Huffman had been unwilling to allow companies that build AI chatbots like ChatGPT to have free access to the site to perfect their large-language models.

AI companies had used a free interface to access the massive amounts of data at Reddit to train artificial intelligence models.

“Reddit needs to be a self-sustaining business, and to do that, we can no longer subsidize commercial entities that require large-scale data use,” Huffman wrote in a Reddit post at the time.

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