29 April 2015

Happy Twitterversary

Eight years ago today I tweeted for the first time.

To celebrate, Twitter lost 24% of its market value yesterday.

Twitter hatches

Although I didn't remember exactly what I tweeted that first time back in 2007, nor the exact date, I very clearly remembered the circumstances.  Twitter had suddenly taken SXSW by storm the month before.  I was on a business trip to Europe, reading an article about it in The Economist and decided to give it a try.

Signing up back then was very different:  You SMS'd to 40404 and by exchanging text messages you established a username and got started.  Coincidentally, just the other day I discovered a site that will find your first tweet.  I entered @SteveS1 and suddenly it all came back to me:

(Yes, I misspelled "coffee".  So sue me.)

Twitter lays an egg of its own

Yesterday afternoon Twitter's stock price was a fairly typical $51.19, but then their (somewhat) disappointing 1st quarter results came out prematurely and a day later shares are trading at $38.98.  That's about a 24% decline, not far from where it was on Day 1.

Is that bad?  Not really, for two reasons.

First, this news puts Twitter in proper company with the rest of the tech world, subject to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.  Just because Twitter is famous doesn't mean its stock won't go up or down.

Second, they're still racking up some impressive ad revenue, "only" $435.9 million in 1st quarter, which was 74% above the same quarter a year earlier.  Yes, it was a drop from the previous quarter, but their chief sin seems to have been missing financial analysts' expectations, which were more like $456.8 million.

The real question is whether this news represents a real weakness in ability to attract ad revenue.  Or as Twitter CEO Dick Costolo put it, the company had a "demand problem".  Here again, they're in proper company.  Many emerging media platforms have this problem, because advertisers aren't sure how or whether a new medium fits in their overall mix.

I'm not an investor in Twitter, so I can watch this play out with merely professional curiosity — what about you?  Any thoughts on the future of Twitter?

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