Twitter Inc disappointed investors once again with first-quarter results that revealed stagnant revenue growth as the microblogging service struggles to grab new users amid efforts to improve its complicated interface with several new features.
Twitter’s user base grew modestly to 310 million monthly active users in the quarter ended March 31 from 305 million in the fourth quarter, above analysts’ expectations. But investors were let down by the revenue miss since outlining a turnaround plan.
“It’s obvious Twitter is having trouble,” said Arvind Bhatia, analyst with CRT Capital. “It’s not growing anywhere close to where people expected a while back.”
On a call with analysts, executives said advertisers, especially in Europe, held back spending ahead of major events, including the Olympics and the European Champions League. They also said users were spending more time watching and sharing video, but that advertisers’ budgets had not yet shifted from legacy advertising products such as promoted tweets.
Chief Financial Officer Anthony Noto said Twitter’s long-term goal was to have “millions of advertisers like our competitors.” Facebook Inc has more than 3 million advertisers.
Twitter has struggled with stagnant user growth as its complex interface makes it less attractive to new users.
As part of its turnaround plan, the company has emphasized its live offerings, including live commentary and video streaming through its Periscope app, to attract new users. But it faces fierce competition from Facebook Inc which has recently ramped up its live video product, Facebook Live.
Chief Executive Jack Dorsey said that talent recruitment was a top priority for the year, especially on the engineering and product teams. Twitter lost several top executives earlier this year and has since added two new board members and a new chief marketing officer.
The company forecast revenue of $590 million to $610 million for the second quarter. Analysts on average were expecting $677.57 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
First-quarter revenue rose 36 percent from a year earlier to $594.5 million, but widely missed the average analyst estimate of $607.8 million.
The new Facebook Live API will let publishers and hardware makers build tools that connect with the social network’s live video streaming feature. That means broadcasters will be able to stream video from hardware that integrates with the service like DJI drones and the new Mevo camera, along with broadcast software like Livestream, ffmpeg and Xsplit.
It’s a move to help video producers bring live video to Facebook without having to do something extreme like strap an iPhone to a camera rig, which is what they currently have to do. With the new tool, Facebook also makes it easier for developers and broadcasters to bring higher quality video to Live, too.
Users will also have the ability to share a live broadcast with members of a group, or people who are registered for an event, in addition to broadcasting to their friends or to the world at large. People watching a live broadcast can add live emoji reactions, similar to adding reactions to a news feed.
The functionality is a push by Facebook to compete with other live streaming services like Periscope, which is owned by rival social network Twitter. With the rise of pervasive, high-speed mobile connectivity, live streaming is becoming more prevalent. Facebook is likely feeling the pressure from its competition, but it’s in a strong position, according to Forrester analyst Nick Barber.
“Paired with its active users and algorithm, Facebook stands to create a new revenue stream with live events,” he said in an email. “It makes Facebook a one-stop shop for users who want to consume news, live events and connect with family and friends.”
Improving live streaming may make the platform more appealing to people who know they want to stream their event to the Web somehow, but haven’t yet decided how to do it. If Facebook can become the de facto home for live broadcasts from celebrities and big brands, that could put the company in a lucrative position.
“Recorded video is very engaging on social channels, and live creates even more opportunities for brands and individuals,” Barber said.
The National Football League has selected Twitter as its exclusive global partner for streaming its Thursday night games during the 2016 regular season, both parties announced, a deal that could help the social media site expand its user base.
CBS Corp and Comcast Corp unit NBC, which won the broadcast rights in February, could also gain more viewers via Twitter, TV executives said.
Twitter Inc spokesman Brian Poliakoff declined to disclose the financial terms, or elaborate on how the games would be streamed. But technology news website Re/code, citing people familiar with the bidding process, reported that Twitter paid less than $10 million for the streaming rights.
The deal comes as sports fans are increasingly relying on the Internet to watch video at the expense of traditional cable and satellite connections. Livestreaming the games would give Twitter a new avenue to attract users as it tries to catch up with rival social networks like Facebook Inc, which has over a billion users.
The NFL partnership helps cement Twitter’s position as a destination for live video, said Tom Richardson, president of consulting firm Convergence Sports & Media.
“I don’t think it’s going to cannibalize viewership at all,” CBS Sports Chair Sean McManus said. “I don’t see people turning off their televisions and watching the game on Twitter.”
“The fact that our national commercials are running on the Twitter feed is a big benefit,” he said.
An NBC spokesman declined to comment.
Twitter will livestream 10 games for free to the more than 800 million people who use its service, as well as non-registered users.
Tesla Motors Inc announced that orders for its new Model 3 electric sedan topped 253,000 in the first 36 hours — a fast start for the company’s first mass-market vehicle, which may not begin to reach customers for another 18 months or more.
Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk tweeted that the Model 3, which is slated to go into production in late 2017, will sell at an average price of $42,000, including the price of options and additional features, which would give the initial flurry of orders an estimated retail value of $10.6 billion.
That intense interest, fanned in part by a steady stream of tweets by Musk, could help boost Tesla’s stock price, which closed Friday at $237.59, up 3.4 percent. The stock has soared more than 60 percent since hitting a 12-month low in February.
The car’s average selling price projected by Musk is well above the $35,000 base price. Analysts earlier had estimated the first Model 3s off the factory line in Fremont, California, could be loaded with extra equipment and sell for $50,000 to$60,000.
Tesla has undertaken a costly expansion of the Fremont plant, aiming to boost annual capacity to 500,000 by 2020, with production of the Model 3, the company’s first mass-market car, ramping up slowly through 2019.
Some analysts said the company could have trouble filling all the initial Model 3 orders, which are accompanied by a refundable $1,000 deposit, until 2020.
Barclays analyst Brian Johnson on Friday said the heavy influx of Model 3 orders “sets the stage for an equity offering” later this year by Tesla, much of which would go toward factory construction and product development.
Johnson had estimated Tesla could take 250,000-300,000 orders for the car by the end of June.
Dorsey gave a wide-ranging interview to Matt Lauer onThe Today Show, marking the tenth anniversary of the micro-blogging site. Twitter has gained a huge mainstream following but still struggles with its bottom line, attracting new users and the loss of key employees.
Twitter “is the easiest way to see what’s happening in the world right now live,” said Dorsey, who took over the CEO spot, for a second time around, in October. “It really reflects what’s happening right now and what people want to talk about.”
In the interview, Dorsey touched on the recent threat the terror group ISIS made against him and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. “I found it alarming,” he said. “We took it very seriously.”
When Lauer asked a question about whether Twitter censors users, Dorsey emphatically denied it, saying, “Absolutely not.
“Twitter has always been about controls,” said Dorsey. “People can follow who they want. It’s our job to make sure they see the most important things and the things that matter to them… You can follow who you want and if there’s something you don’t want to see, you don’t have to follow it.”
And while Dorsey did say tweets that promote violence are against the company’s terms of service, he also said he’s never personally blocked anyone from his own feed.
“I get some nastiness every now and then,” said Dorsey. “I want to see what people are saying. I really want to hear from them.”
Dorsey also talked about the trolls who use Twitter to bash people. “It’s disappointing but it’s a reflective of the world,” said Dorsey. “We see as much optimism and positivity as negativity. And the most important thing is that we empower dialogue, we empower conversations so people can work out their issues.”
Twitter has said it only takes down accounts when they are reported by other users, but said that it has increased the size of teams monitoring and responding to reports and has decreased its response time “significantly.”
Twitter’s announcement comes as many tech companies – led by Facebook – have taken stronger steps to police controversial content online in the face of threats from legislators to force the companies to report “terrorist activity” on their sites to law enforcement.
Silicon Valley has been wary of engaging with government officials, concerned about endless demands for similar action from countries around the world as well as fears about being perceived by consumers as tools of government.
The announcement was also notable because Twitter has said little about its efforts to combat Islamic State, also known as ISIS, and similar groups even though it has been criticized for not doing enough.
Islamic State, which controls last swathes of Iraq and Syria, has heavily relied on the 300 million-person site, as well as others, to recruit fighters and propagate violent messages.
Seamus Hughes, deputy director of George Washington University’s program on extremism, said Friday’s report showcased an “impressive number” of takedowns, but said that Twitter still appears to police extremist content in a mostly “episodic” way.
Many extremists have migrated toward smaller, less monitored platforms in recent months in response to major Silicon Valley firms stepping up their content policing, Hughes added.
In January, a delegation of top national security officials met tech industry leaders from Twitter, Facebook Inc, Apple Inc, and Google parent Alphabet Inc, but most companies, including Twitter, did not send their chief executive officers.
Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, called Twitter’s announcement a “very positive development,” but said more was needed.
“Addressing the use of social media by terrorists will require a sustained and cooperative effort between the technology sector, the Intelligence Community, and law enforcement,” he said.
Still, Twitter said in a blog post that it has cooperated with law enforcement when appropriate.
The Amazon “share” feature invites customers to share a product via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter or Pintrest.
The court said on Monday that sharing by e-mail without approval of the recipient was illegal. It is “unsolicited advertising and unreasonable harassment,” the regional court in Hamm said, confirming the ruling of a lower court in Arnsberg.
The case was brought against one of Amazon’s resellers by a competitor.
Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The ruling comes after Germany’s highest court ruled earlier this month that a similar feature that encourages Facebook users to market the social media network to their contacts as unlawful.
At the time, the Federation of German Consumer Organisations (VZBV), which brought the Facebook case to court, had said the ruling would have implications for other services in Germany which use similar forms of advertising.
The stock rose from a record low after unconfirmed chatter about News Corp’s interest in Twitter circulated on Wednesday. The rumors intensified after a CNBC segment, tech website Re/code said.
The social media site was evaluated as a takeover target because of the company’s shrinking stock price, Re/code said.
In the few months since co-founder Jack Dorsey returned as the chief executive, Twitter has been trying to make the site more engaging. The company said in December it was testing a feature to show ads to people who read tweets without logging in as it tries to monetize non-active users.
“Twitter inside a larger organization definitely makes theoretical sense, whether its another internet company or a media company,” Monness, Crespi, Hardt, & Co Inc analyst James Cakmak said.
A News Corp spokesman said there was no truth to the rumors.
Twitter already has several high-profile investors. Former Microsoft Corp CEO Steve Ballmer reported a 4 percent stake in October, making him the third-biggest shareholder after Twitter co-founder Evan Williams and Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.
Twitter has been the subject of takeover rumors in the past, including a fake report attributed to Bloomberg that claimed the company had received an offer to be acquired for $31 billion.
Twitter had received bids from Alphabet Inc’s Google and Facebook Inc, according to reports.
Twitter Inc stated that it had reversed a glitchy software update and resolved outages widely reported across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and North America that affected users of the social network on computers and phones.
In a status update message Twitter said an “intermittent issue affecting some users” was related to “an internal code change.”
“We reverted the change, which fixed the issue,” Twitter said in a statement. There was no immediate way to determine whether full service had been restored for all users.
Wall Street has long worried about Twitter’s stagnant growth in users and advertising revenue, and analysts said the outage added to the concern.
“The current market malaise and the recent site outages are compounding the negatives and having a very negative reaction on the shares,” said Victor Anthony, Axiom Capital Management analyst.
Some users who tweeted with the hashtag #twitterdown reported they had not experienced problems or that their service had been restored. Others said they were still having problems after Twitter’s announcement.
Many pointed out that Twitter could not have been down for everyone since #twitterdown was among the top trending hashtags on the site.
Both Twitter’s Internet and mobile services began experiencing outages concentrated in northern Europe around 0820 GMT.
Users from Scandinavia to Saudi Arabia to South Africa reported outages. India and Russia also suffered performance issues, according to a Twitter technical site.
Intermittent breakdowns later spread to the United States and Canada in the early part of their working day.
Sporadic disruptions continued at 1420 GMT, six hours after they first began to spread. At approximately 1745 GMT Twitter reported that some users were still having trouble accessing the service.
Fifteen minutes later the company announced the service problems had been resolved. A company spokeswoman had no further comment.
Re/Code and other sites are reporting that Twitter is working on a feature that will give users a 10,000-character limit. The social media company reportedly is looking to launch it by the end of the first quarter.
The report also stated that Twitter would look much the same as it does now, with a maximum of 140 characters showing in a tweet. However, users would be able to click on something inside the tweet to reveal more text.
The 10,000 number isn’t firm and could change once the feature is released.
A Twitter spokesperson declined to comment.
Industry analysts are unsure how this move would go over with users, but it’s clear that Jack Dorsey, who became Twitter’s CEO again this past fall, needs to boost the company’s user growth, as well as its bottom line.
“This is the million-dollar question for Twitter,” said Jeff Kagan, an independent industry analyst. “Should they change their brand identity in order to chase growth or stick to their guns and find other ways? And 140 characters is just an arbitrary number. However, since Twitter’s founding, 140 characters has been what it’s all about.”
Kagan added that he doesn’t think users are clamoring for more characters to use in their tweets. If users have more to say, they simply tweet several times.
Right on the heels of the first U.S. presidential primaries and caucuses, a popular archive of sometimes-misguided or embarrassing tweets that have been deleted by politicians and their staff has been resurrected by Twitter.
Politwoops had been a popular social media destination for political junkies and others looking to unearth social media gaffes by politicians.
But in a move widely lambasted by open-government advocates, Twitter effectively shuttered Politwoops last summer when it revoked access to its interface by the government accountability watchdog, the Sunlight Foundation, that had developed the tool and had been publishing the tweets.
On Thursday, Twitter said it had reached a deal with Sunlight and another organization, the Open State Foundation, to restore the tool.
“Politwoops is an important tool for holding our public officials, including candidates and elected or appointed public officials, accountable for the statements they make, and we’re glad that we’ve been able to reach an agreement with Twitter to bring it back online both in the U.S. and internationally,” said Jenn Topper, communications director for The Sunlight Foundation.
While the announcement was a victory for government-transparency advocates, it could prove to be a setback for politicians hoping to avoid the social media rumpus that can accompany an ill-timed tweet or misconstrued online musing.
The deal comes as the clock ticks closer to the first vote casting in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. The Iowa caucuses will take place on Feb. 1, followed by the first primary in New Hampshire on Feb. 9.
Epic Games said it is investigating issue with Unreal Engine 4 and AMD CPUs.
The problem appears in Squad which is the first big, publicly available game using Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 4. The game was just stuck up on Steam so complaints about the AMD have been somewhat vocal.
The engine appears to create a poor performance on AMD CPUs due to an audio component of the engine. The issue has been reported before but no one took it that seriously. In fact some of theissues here seem to be a communication problem between Squad and Epic.
Squad developer Offworld Industries told Tweaktown that there was little it could do about this besides wait for Epic to fix it and release the fix in an engine patch.
However Epic’s senior marketing manager Dana Cowley said she didn’t even know about the problem until she was contacted by the media.
She said he was getting on the blower with the Squad team to investigate, and see how it could help.
There is a work around being suggested on the blogs which might help. If you navigate to C:UsersAppDataLocalSquadSavedConfigWindowsNoEditor, back up the Engine.ini file then open it with Notepad, find the [Audio] section, change MaxChannels from 128 to 96, 64, or 32, and save.
Apple Inc has decided to shutter its Topsy Labs unit, which specialized in analyzing Twitter data and providing insights into current sentiment on a variety of topics, and the move prompted an outcry from many of its users.
The website for the platform www.topsy.com currently directs users to an Apple support page. On Tuesday night, Topsy sent out its last tweet from its @Topsy account: “We’ve searched our last tweet.”
Apple acquired Topsy in December 2013 for more than $200 million, an unusual purchase for a hardware-focused company that has made few forays into social networking. An Apple spokesman was not immediately available for comment.
San Francisco-based Topsy was one of Twitter’s early partners, enjoying direct access to the messaging service’s billions of tweets over several years. It has indexed them all to make them readily and rapidly searchable.
“What the heck! Gone too soon,” wrote Twitter user Doyan Wilfred (@ThinkDoyan) on Wednesday.
Adrian Parker (@adrianparker), another Twitter user, wrote: “Heartbreak. Topsy was my secret Twitter weapon (Tweapon?)”
Former employees of Topsy also took to social media to express their sadness.
“RIP (rest in peace) Topsy” Rishab Aiyer Ghosh (@r2g2), one of the four founders of the company, tweeted on Tuesday night.
Topsy employee Paul Gerard Porter (@paul_g_porter) tweeted: “What an incredible run we had – I thoroughly enjoyed being part of the Topsy team #endofanera.”
Before the Topsy acquisition, Apple’s main effort in social media had revolved around Ping, a music-centered social sharing network that was at one point integrated into the company’s iTunes app. The service, which lets users post music tracks they liked to a news feed, did not catch on and was shut down.
The notice said there was no indication the hackers obtained sensitive information from what it said were a “small group of accounts” targeted.
It did not provide additional information about the attack or possible suspects in its investigation.
Twitter’s notice is the latest amid concern about cyber attacks by state-sponsored organizations. Government agencies, businesses and media have all been hacked.
Motherboard, a tech news site, and the Financial Times earlier reported on Twitter’s warning.
One organization that said it received the notice, a Winnipeg-based nonprofit called Coldhak, said the warning from Twitter came on Friday. The notice said the attackers may have been trying to obtain information such as “email addresses, IP addresses, and/or phone numbers”.
Coldhak’s Twitter account, @coldhakca, retweeted reports from a number of other users who said they received the notice. Coldhak and the other users did not indicate why they may have been singled out.
Colin Childs, one of the founding directors of Coldhak, told Reuters his organization has seen “no noticeable impact of this attack”.
Google and Facebook have also started issuing warnings to users possibly targeted by state-sponsored attacks.
The company said the feature will help it cash in on an additional half a billion people each month, pushing its shares up as much as 7.8 percent to $26.21 on Thursday – their biggest percentage gain in two months.
The promoted tweets and videos will be available on Twitter’s desktop website, particularly on people’s profile pages and “tweet detail” pages that highlight specific tweets.
The move will be welcomed by advertisers who have shied away from Twitter saying it doesn’t have enough users, unlike rival Facebook Inc, which boasts more than 1.55 billion monthly active users (MAUs). Twitter has 320 million MAUs.
Facebook, which had once struggled to monetize its social networking platform, has been consistently launching tools to capture ad dollars.
Twitter had first broached this idea last year when Chief Financial Officer Anthony Noto said it would be possible to monetize logged-out users once the company “nailed the consumer experience”.
The company has said that ads targeted at logged-out users – or people who view tweets without a Twitter account – would bring in $2.50 in average revenue per user (ARPU). Its logged-in user base brings in more than $4 in ARPU.
Twitter has been experimenting under Jack Dorsey – the company’s co-founder who returned as chief executive in October – to make the website more engaging.
“The best thing to happen under Jack Dorsey would be the fact that they are going to rethink all aspects of their business,” Monness, Crespi, Hardt, & Co Inc analyst James Cakmak said.
“Before it was a case of doing the same thing and hoping things change.”
In the few months under Dorsey, Twitter introduced the ‘Moments’ feature, added polls to tweets, laid off about 8 percent of its workforce and rolled out a “buy” button.
The new ads feature was being tested with some advertisers in the United States, UK, Japan and Australia, Twitter said on Thursday. The company plans to roll it out to more markets around the world.