Twitter Inc.’s been spinning quite a turnaround story in the press lately. The microblogging service “has finally turned a corner,” declares the cover of Bloomberg Businessweek. “It’s a juggernaut,” a company executive tells the magazine. But the hard numbers we’ve been provided paint a very different story.
A source with close knowledge of Twitter’s financials leaked us revenue, profit, and other figures from the company’s recent past. They are not encouraging.
It’s notoriously hard to build a profitable tech startup, even in these bubble times. But Twitter, the business, has been provided a huge leg up by Twitter, the technology platform. It counts somewhere north of 100 million global active users. But more than the numbers, it’s the quality of users that should have the company raking in ad dollars.
Twitter is provided a huge quantity of free celebrity content that sites like the hugely profitable Facebook would kill for, from the presidents of the United States and Russia to top film and TV stars like Tom Hanks, Steve Martin, Oprah Winfrey, and Ashton Kutcher, all the way down to gossip magnets like Lindsay Lohan and Kim Kardashian. It has also raised an insane amount of cash, with net inflows of around $760 million. The company, now six years old, has had plenty of time to experiment with extracting gold from its enviable mine of content.
But for years and years, Twitter has failed to do so.