February 6, 2014

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If Twitter wants to be the global town square, it needs a few more people than its current 241 million users, Mike Isaac writes. Twitter reported earnings yesterday and while revenue per user is up, growth has slowed to a crawl. Twitter’s stock price fell to $50 from $65 on Thursday, despite the fact that earnings actually beat analysts’ expectations. Matt Lynley has a good overview of the earnings call and Quartz has all the earnings charts.

The problem is the service added 9 million users in the fourth quarter — up a mere 4% from the previous quarter. Only 1 million of those new users came in the US, where most of Twitter’s ad revenue comes from — up a mere 4% from the previous quarter. S&P Capital analyst Scott Kessler told Bloomberg that the slow growth calls into question Twitter’s future value to advertisers. On the earnings call, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo said the company as a growth plan, which mostly includes “making the site easier to use”, including adding richer media to the timeline and beefing up its messaging service.

Currently, Twitter doesn’t have a lot of value for people without a ton of followers, says tech consultant Rakesh Agrawal. In a post explaining why he himself loves Twitter, he explained why most people don’t: “The primary reason people in media love Twitter and splash their Twitter handles everywhere they can is that they get so much value out of it … But their readers and viewers don’t derive the same kind of value”.

While Twitter is figuring out how to grow, Facebook had a great quarter. Last week, the company announced it had revenues of almost $2.6 billion in the fourth quarter, up 63% from the same time last year. For the first time, more than half of Facebook’s revenue came from mobile. Vauhini Vara writes that Facebook’s success is largely because it “now has data that helps it prove to marketers that there is a specific—and significant—return on their investment in news-feed ads” — on desktop and mobile.

Despite Facebook’s trouble keeping teens around, Carnegie Mellon researcher Bruno Ribeiro just released a new model showing Facebook has staying power (so, too, does the service’s annoying emails about what your friends are up to).

Next, Facebook “is on the prowl for the next big smartphone app, whether it comes from inside the building or not”, says John Herrman. Late last year, he writes, the company spent $100 million on a little-known Israeli company, Onavo, which “had developed the only service that could identify, with precision, how many people were using almost any iOS app” — a feature neither Google nor Apple has. — Shane Ferro

On to today’s links:

Bill Gates is having his Steve Jobs moment at Microsoft –  Ben Thompson

The most expensive housing markets in America are (still) its tech hubs – Jed Kolko

Baton Rouge’s rich want to create a new town to keep poor kids out of their public schools – Bloomberg

“More than one in six men ages 25 to 54, prime working years, don’t have jobs” – WSJ
It takes 19 years to dig out of the hole a bout of unemployment creates – Daniel Cooper

“Health insurance is the only good I can think of where you have to be working at a job to get a fair price” – Sarah Kliff

Apple’s growth scorecard – Horace Dediu

EU Mess
Comparing euro area and US unemployment rates – Thomas Klitgaard and Richard Peck

Big Questions
Hey, World: Why so much anarchy? – Robert Kaplan

The Oracle
Buffett’s lead widens in his hedge funds vs. index funds bet – Carol Loomis

The private fixed investment recovery: Not so bad after all – Daniel Carroll
Cities mapped by where people go running – Atlantic Cities

Hackers got into Target’s system through its air conditioning – NYT

The state of digital rights management in 2014 – The Guardian

“It sounds like something Occupy Wall Street would invent if they wanted people to hate bankers even more” – IBT

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One comment

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After being on Twitter for a while, I think it has another problem. Twitter has a huge amount of garbage. Look up the hashhtag #radiation or #Fukushima for instance. It’s mostly drivel from people who either have no clue what they are talking about or parties who put out deliberately false stories for one reason or other.

For instance, I have traced back the source of most of the outrageous lies about Fukushima radiation to RT.com. And it makes sense that Russian oil companies would do their utmost to scare Japanese and Americans about Fukushima. They are making billions from the shutdown of Japan’s nuclear power plants.

Then, roughly 30% of Twitter has been reported to be bots.

I remember the publicist who introduced me to Twitter saying, “It’s filled with people with nothing better to do than that, god help them.”

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