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From: Glenn Petersen7/2/2017 3:02:23 PM
1 Recommendation   of 1203
While this article focuses on the challenges faced by Tumblr, those challenges are also shared by Twitter.

But the truth is that running a platform for culture creation is, increasingly, a charity operation undertaken by larger companies. Servers are expensive, and advertisers would rather just throw money at Facebook than take a chance on your weird, problematic network. Generating and incubating internet culture has little market value in and of itself.

Tumblr’s Unclear Future Shows That There’s No Money in Internet Culture

By Brian Feldman
New York Magazine
June 28, 2017 4:48 pm

Earlier this month, Verizon completed its acquisition of Yahoo, incorporating the internet-portal pioneer’s slate of brands under a new umbrella corporation named, ominously, Oath. Among those Yahoo brands is the website Tumblr, a blog-based social network that you either know well to the point of obsession, or find completely incomprehensible. As Verizon completed its acquisition, a number of Tumblr employees, as well as those at other Verizon-owned properties, like the Huffington Post, were laid off.

The future of Tumblr is still an open question. The site is enormously popular among the coveted youth crowd — that’s partly why then-CEO Marissa Mayer paid $1 billion for the property in 2013 — but despite a user base near the size of Instagram’s, Tumblr never quite figured out how to make money at the level Facebook has led managers and shareholders to expect. For a long time, its founder and CEO David Karp was publicly against the idea of inserting ads into users’ timelines. (Other experiments in monetization, like premium options, never caught on: It’s tough to generate revenue when your most active user base is too young to have a steady income.) Even once the timeline became open to advertising, it was tough to find clients willing to brave the sometimes-porny waters of the Tumblr Dashboard. Since it joined Yahoo, the site has started displaying low-quality “chum”-style ads in between user posts on the Dashboard. Looked at from a bottom-line perspective, Tumblr is an also-ran like its parent company — a once-hot start-up that has eased into tech-industry irrelevance.

Looked at from another angle, however, Tumblr is among
the most important sites online — a central hub of what is nebulously known as “internet culture.” Most recently, the site gave us Dat Boi, the unicycling frog, but Tumblr’s most famous legacy is probably the reaction GIF, which was popularized by Tumblr accounts like What Should We Call Me. Tumblr’s reblog structure, which created lengthy, publicly shared conversations between strangers, also helped popularize the concept of the Discourse, the internetwide conversation happening all at once. It is also the primary meeting place for fandoms of shows like Doctor Who and Supernatural, and films like the Marvel movies — some of the most aggressive fandoms are cultivated on Tumblr.

It is rare, but not at all unprecedented, for a site to reach Tumblr’s size, prominence, and level of influence and still be unable to build a sustainable business. Twitter steers a huge portion of online culture, and has become an essential water cooler and newswire for journalists, tech workers, and otaku Nazis, but still has trouble turning a profit. Twitter itself shuttered its service Vine after just four years, even though the six-second-video social network had created more ubiquitous catchphrases and viral videos than any other social network over the same period. Reddit, the so-called “front page of the internet,” has been unable to fully capitalize on its enormous audience and influence, even after being purchased by Condé Nast (which it then spun out again; Condé Nast is very careful to specify that it does not own Reddit, though its parent company Advance Publications is a majority stakeholder). 4chan, whatever else you might think of it, is probably the most influential single website of the last decade, but its owner Hiroyuki Nishimura has said he is likely to shut it down. Even YouTube, which is synonymous with online video, still has trouble with profitability. As late as last October, CEO Susan Wojcicki was saying that the site was still in “investment mode” and that there was “no timetable” for profitability.

What makes these sites so friendly to creative expression? To begin with, there’s a focus on frictionless, near-immediate sharing — making posting hassle-free. 4chan doesn’t even require an account, whereas Vine limited its clips to a mere six seconds. It also has to be easy for users to iterate or remix content: The core function of Tumblr is the reblog, which lets users attach their own comments and photos to other posts like Lego blocks.

Importantly, iteration, and a meme’s growth, is much easier to track and understand when platforms use strict chronological timelines, which allow users to see a visible progression of online discourse, rather than trying to piece it together like a puzzle. Algorithmic timelines, like Facebook’s News Feed, are terrible for collaborative online culture. If Twitter has seemed a bit more staid over the last year, it might have something to do with its algorithmic timeline (which you can turn off).

Lastly, there is light content moderation. This can be a blessing and a curse, but allowing users to feel safe posting whatever is what allows these communities to grow, whether it’s via 4chan’s lolcats or Tumblr’s porn GIFs. When heavy-handed moderation is put in place, you not only limit expression, you run the risk of alienating the creators — like when top YouTubers like PewDiePie began to rebel against the platform after advertisers withdrew over content they found objectionable.

Advertisers, ultimately, are part of the problem. The general thinking in the rise of social networks was that if you make stuff that gets a lot of attention (or, better yet, own the real estate on which others are making stuff for free), brands will put their ads next to it. But with a small handful of exceptions, the advertising riches never really materialized. There are many reasons for this — for one thing, it’s tough to sell a high-quality ad experience to executives at Coca-Cola when you first have to explain what a meme is and why it’s “viral.” On top of all that, there are reams of porn, hate speech, copyright infringement, and more porn floating around on these platforms, easily accidentally placed adjacent to a company’s studiously inoffensive ad.

Maybe more importantly, Tumblr and Vine and the like never had data-mining operations as sophisticated as, say, Facebook. That’s why most of the advertising money in the industry has drained toward Facebook, which has 2 billion users, mounds of data, and can better assure advertisers of content cleanliness. Facebook is instructive: It’s less a place for creation or debate than it is for hosting all of the nitty-gritty, more boring data about your life. For much of its life, Facebook aggressively trafficked not in collecting rage comics and funny video clips, but in collecting bland lists of favorite movies and where you went to college — personal information that it can use to target ads with alarming specificity. And by selling ads against people’s identities, rather than their creative content, the company has churned out impressive profits, and given a wider impression that an ad-supported content platform is viable. (One of the great ironies of Twitter’s and Tumblr’s inability to make sustained profits is that Instagram and Facebook are both full of videos and posts screenshotted and stolen from their more productive, less wealthy rival platforms.)

But the truth is that running a platform for culture creation is, increasingly, a charity operation undertaken by larger companies. Servers are expensive, and advertisers would rather just throw money at Facebook than take a chance on your weird, problematic network. Generating and incubating internet culture has little market value in and of itself.

Which means Tumblr has to hope for patience and kindness from Verizon while it seeks a way to make money. It’s not an impossible task (though Verizon’s hope that Yahoo will be the content arm of a major advertising operation is not promising for the company). There are signs that the internet-culture machines are finding ways to make themselves sustainable: YouTube is not shutting down anytime soon, but pre-roll ads weren’t doing the job, and now it has a premium subscription service in order to collect revenue directly from users. The next hubs of internet culture will learn from the mistakes of the past decade, hopefully by doing one of two things: developing a way to collect revenue directly from its audience, like Twitch or Patreon allow now, or by eschewing the notion of a sustainable business at all. It can be easy, in the era of just a handful of megaplatforms, to forget that the internet used to be a much more decentralized place, where things went viral across disparate platforms and websites and forum threads, rather than within a single one.

All of this is running in parallel to a larger internet movement away from public spaces: group messaging, private forums, and chat rooms, ephemerality. The overall stumbles of building centralized hubs of internet culture mean that, going forward, content might soon be consumed not by one large audience on a single platform, but by thousands of smaller audiences across a variety of online spaces.

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From: Glenn Petersen7/10/2017 3:39:05 PM
1 Recommendation   of 1203
Twitter lets you avoid trolls by muting new users and strangers

by Josh Constine ( @joshconstine)
July 10, 2017

When trolls barge into people’s notifications with offensive replies or user names, those legitimate users might not keep coming back to Twitter. So today the company rolled out new tools to help you silence the riff-raff. There are now options to mute notifications from newly registered accounts, people you don’t follow and people who don’t follow you. These can be configured in the Notifications -> Settings -> Advanced Filters section of Twitter.

These additions follow Twitter’s March rollout of ways to silence people who haven’t added a profile picture or verified their email address or phone number. Twitter also recently required filtering new Direct Messages into a Requests folder.

The change comes amid Twitter denying The Washington Post‘s report that it’s working on ways to let people report fake news.

Twitter has been publicly urged to deal with its abuse problems for years now. But currently, Twitter’s strategy seems to be hiding the abuse from victims rather than aggressively exterminating the trolls that spew hate speech and threats.

Today’s changes won’t do anything to get rid of people trying to offend or scare away legitimate users. But at least the options could reduce the harm caused by jerks who often register new accounts to attack people, don’t always follow their victims and are rarely followed back.

For Twitter to level-up beyond its current scale or impact, it must make itself usable by mainstream internet citizens. These are people who aren’t likely to configure deeply buried settings, understand user interface jargon, put up with vulgar trolling or immediately realize what the service is even for.

Yet at Twitter’s core is a service valuable to everyone: the ability to consume a distilled, snackable perspective of the world from experts on every topics and participate in the discussion. Twitter’s challenge will be taking the necessary steps to make its app simple and safe enough, even if it means jostling its loyalists, and kicking out the spam bots and unsavory characters even as it’s trying to keep its user count growing.

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From: Glenn Petersen7/27/2017 9:23:43 AM
3 Recommendations   of 1203
Twitter shares drop 9 percent as it fails to deliver user growth
  • Twitter posted better-than-expected EPS and revenue growth in its second-quarter earnings report.
  • The number of monthly average users remained flat from the previous quarter.
  • Advertising revenue continues to decrease year-over-year.

Michael Sheetz | @thesheetztweetz
July 27, 2017

Twitter reported a lower-than-expected number of monthly active users in its second-quarter earnings report before the bell Thursday.

Shares of the company dropped 9 percent in pre-market trading, after the company reported 328 million monthly active users, unchanged from the previous quarter.

"You have zero user growth versus Facebook reporting 70 million new users [after the bell Wednesday]," Aegis Capital internet analyst Victor Anthony said on CNBC's " Squawk Box." "It's not a recipe for a stock you want to buy."

Advertising revenue also decreased 8 percent year-over-year, totaling $489 million compared to $535 million in the same quarter last year.

Expectations vs. results
  • EPS: 12 cents vs. 5 cents expected, according to Thomson Reuters.
  • Revenue: $574 million vs. $536.7 million expected, according to Thomson Reuters.
  • Monthly active users: 328 million vs. 329 million expected, according to StreetAccount.
Twitter started the year strong when the company reported 9 million more monthly active users than expected in the first quarter. User growth has been a concern for investors, who see the 328 million active Twitter users as severely lagging behind Facebook's more than 2 billion.

The social network admits it needs to continue to bring its revenue growth in line with its user growth, but Twitter executives remain confident recent efforts are helping to reverse recently declining revenues.

"While we still have a lot of work to do for revenue growth to get it to track audience growth, the improvements in revenue growth reflect the progress executing against our top revenue generating products in the second quarter as well as strengthening business fundamentals," chief operating officer Anthony Noto said on a call with investors.

Twitter launched a less data-intensive version of its service called Twitter Lite on April 6. It can only be accessed via mobile web browser and takes up less than 1 megabyte of storage.

CEO Jack Dorsey said Twitter Lite is an effort to attract users in low-data, remote parts of the world, such as as India, where Twitter found the "app was way too slow to access."

On an earnings call with investors, Dorsey said initial results from Twitter Lite "look really positive" but declined to provide any statistics, warning that it was too early assess the success of the service.

A crackdown on abusive activity is making progress, as Twitter reported it is taking daily action on ten times as many abusive accounts compared to the same time last year. By limiting functionality or suspending accounts, Twitter found abusive users generated 25 percent fewer abuse reports. Mistreatment on the platform has scared off both advertisers and potential buyers, as Salesforce ruled out a bid for Twitter in part from concerns the social platform could not handle online abuse and trolls.

Online advertising is increasingly an issue for Twitter, as other technology companies such as Alphabet and Facebook continue to eat up more digital advertising revenue. Advert engagement grew 95 percent year-over-year in the second quarter, yet ad sales fell 8 percent from the previous year.

Digital trends analysis firm eMarketer projects Twitter's advertising revenue will grow 1.6 percent this year, to $2.28 billion, with 90 percent of that revenue coming from the mobile market. Despite the focus on mobile, eMarketer believes the company's share of global market advertising will shrink to 1.5 percent.

Shares of Twitter remain well below its IPO price of $26.

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From: Ron7/31/2017 2:14:00 PM
   of 1203
Twitter is testing a $99 a month advertising subscription service

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To: Krigannie who wrote (1106)8/7/2017 1:23:15 AM
From: TexasRanger23
   of 1203
I'm going to continue holding my Twitter positions in the hopes this will turn out successful. Maybe Twitter can entice Trump to do his address to the nation videos on Twitter.

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To: TexasRanger23 who wrote (1117)8/22/2017 3:06:02 PM
From: Ron
   of 1203
Twitter is having outages involving erroneous locking of accounts for supposed 'automation' violations when according to the users they did nothing to trigger such a lockout. Furthermore when the users try to fix it by providing their phone number, the code provided by twitter does not work. Be interesting to know how many users are affected by this. I haven't done an online search yet but have heard from four different people about this interesting problem.

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To: Ron who wrote (1118)8/23/2017 3:48:13 AM
From: TexasRanger23
   of 1203
I hope not too many. If the verification code didn't work users could also contact support which is mentioned on their website. I'm sure if Twitter is bombarded with support requests they'll remedy the problem quickly. They can't risk cutting their user-base.

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From: Ron8/25/2017 8:09:18 PM
2 Recommendations   of 1203
Twitter's definitely got a problem. Heard from more friends whose accounts were locked for no reason.
Some can get unlocked, some cannot. So... my account was locked an hour ago. Ridiculous. Fortunately, my account took the code and its working again. Wondering how many thousands or millions of people they are losing with this.

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From: FUBHO8/31/2017 10:51:56 AM
1 Recommendation   of 1203
Twitter Inc (NYSE: TWTR) is overvalued, and I’ve believed so for years. And while I’ve never shorted the shares, I still never cease to be amazed at the many permutations of the bull case for TWTR stock.

TWTR 16.93 0.00 0.00% : Twitter, Inc.

All of the Bull Cases for Twitter Inc (TWTR) Stock Are Simply Bull

There have been so many reasons for why “now is the time” to own Twitter stock. After its fall from 2015 levels around $50, TWTR was a turnaround play. CEO Jack Dorsey’s return was greeted with much optimism, but with investors somehow willing to ignore that he was also the CEO of Square Inc (NYSE: SQ). There was a focus on cost-cutting that would improve margins.

A $10 million deal with the NFL in 2016 was touted as a huge driver for what was then a $15 billion stock. (I woke up this morning to see the market cap is now “a bit” off from that, at $9.6 billion.(YAHOO FINANCE SHOWS $12.4 BILLION)

Then Twitter was going to sell itself to everyone from Walt Disney Co(NYSE: DIS) to Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ: GOOGL) to, Inc.(NYSE: CRM). How’d that go?

Twitter rallied again. Q2 earnings tanked TWTR stock. And now the shares are rising again, trading near $17. The new driver appears to be video, even though that has little chance of changing Twitter’s long-term outlook.

Through all the bull cases, however, there has been one simple, consistent problem: Twitter is not profitable.

Excluding the huge amount of Twitter stock used to pay employees, it’s not even close. Twitter stock can’t maintain any upside until that changes. And I remain highly skeptical that it ever will.

The Numbers Behind Twitter StockBased on third quarter guidance, Twitter is on pace to generate about $700 million in Adjusted EBITDA this year. That figure excludes a projected $450 million in share-based compensation: TWTR stock given to the company’s employees. That figure isn’t a cash cost, but it’s real nonetheless, as each compensation share dilutes existing shareholders.

How significant is the dilution? Between 2014 and 2016, a Twitter shareholder saw the size of his stake in the company (on a percentage basis) shrink by about 15%. In that two year period, Twitter added 100 million shares — nearly all of them through share-based compensation.

Depreciation and amortization are non-cash charges but capital expenditures aren’t. They are guided to the $300 million-$400 million range for this year. And Twitter has about $25 million in cash interest expense related to its convertible bonds (it also books non-cash interest charges as well).

In other words, that $700 million figure, which sounds like a profit, actually implies negative free cash flow excluding the issuance of shares. Ignoring changes in working capital, and assuming $350 million in capex, Twitter will generate about $325 million in free cash flow this year. It will do so by issuing $450 million in stock.

That’s the core problem here. Twitter does report non-GAAP net income — but that, too, excludes dilution. And this isn’t a new problem. Twitter reported $444 million in “adjusted” free cash flow in 2016. Share-based compensation was $615 million.

Twitter, as a company, does not generate cash on its own merits. It only creates positive free cash flow through the heavy issuance of Twitter stock.

So the question, then, is how does that change?

Twitter Is Unprofitable

The answer might be that it doesn’t and it won’t. Twitter’s profits actually will marginally improve this year against 2016 — even with a likely decline in reported Adjusted EBITDA. That figure, with stock-based compensation added back, was $136 million last year. It seems likely to clear $200 million this year.

But that’s after a first half that was better than the second half appears to be. Q3 guidance suggests a modest improvement in earnings before dilution but not much (about $35 million vs. $25 million). It’s certainly not enough to get reported profits enough above dilution to cover interest expense and any necessary capital spending.

And what changes going forward? User growth has stalled out. Not even the free publicity and engagement driven by President Donald Trump’s use of the platform has helped on that front. Snap Inc (NYSE: SNAP) might be a disappointing stock, but as a platform, it is attracting younger users, some of whom likely could have helped Twitter grow.

Advertising rates are falling, and as a result revenue actually declined in each of the year’s first two quarters. The shift to video will accelerate that rate compression, and the need to pay for content will pressure margins.

Twitter at the moment is a toxic contribution. It’s functionally unprofitable. Revenue is declining. And margins are likely to compress. For all the other discussion, those core problems remain. Together, they create a stumbling block to the next bull case for Twitter stock.

TWTR Stock Is a Sell

Really, what’s left for Twitter to do?

Is it really going to become a major player in media by airing second-tier, Pac-12 sports and SportsCenter knockoffs? It’s clearly been for sale for years, and no one was interested. Going forward, there’s probably not a lot of demand for a no-growth, unprofitable business, particularly at a $10 billion valuation (plus cash on the balance sheet).

Twitter is a neat tool and an interesting platform. But it may be that there’s just no way in sight to monetize it to a point where it generates real, consistent profits. That doesn’t mean Twitter is going bankrupt soon.

But it does mean that valuing Twitter stock at $10 billion is something close to lunacy.

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From: Glenn Petersen9/27/2017 11:42:58 AM
1 Recommendation   of 1203
140 Characters, the Defining Quirk of Twitter, Becomes a Relic of the Past

By Garett Sloane.
Published on September 26, 2017.

Credit: Illustration by Tam Nguyen/Ad Age

Twitter's 140-character limit died today after a long battle with Facebook. It is survived by brands, publishers and personalities, who will miss its insistence on wit and getting to the point.

That's right: Twitter is expanding its character limit on text posts to 280 characters from 140, starting with a subset of users. The company is describing the move as a test, but the writing is on the wall for this succinct art form.

"Although we feel confident about our data and the positive impact this change will have, we want to try it out with a small group of people before we make a decision to launch to everyone," the company said in a blog post Tuesday. "What matters most is that this works for our community—we will be collecting data and gathering feedback along the way. We're hoping fewer Tweets run into the character limit, which should make it easier for everyone to Tweet."

Even though Twitter has been hinting at the change for more than a year, it is rolling out the longer limit slowly for fear of alienating its most hardcore users.

"140 characters isn't any easy construct, but that's exactly why I love it," says Jill Sherman, head of social strategy at DigitasLBi. "People and brands are forced to stop and think about what they really want to say. And it makes the feed pithy and easily scannable. I'll definitely miss it."

The constraint became a defining brand for Twitter, forcing its users to condense their thoughts into only the most essential words. Twitter users developed a text message-like shorthand that became its own language—"you are" became "u r"—and, more significantly, big ideas were often reduced to hashtags. And it made equals of everyone, in a way: From the greatest wordsmiths to the leader of the free world to the casual user, everybody shared the struggle of editing their thoughts down to their sharpest point.

Just look at President Trump's Twitter prose to see the power that even four can convey ("Sad!").

The original limit was enforced because that's how much room was left in an SMS text message after allowing 20 characters for a user name. To be sure, that had become a bit of a relic. What are character limits when posts are now crammed with videos, photos, GIFs, emojis and links?

In the end, the 140-character limit symbolized a problem for Twitter: It made it harder to get people to tweet, especially if they weren't used to it. For many, it could be the difference between becoming a new user and giving up immediately. After all, what can you possibly say in just 140 characters?

"I will admit to having something of an obsession with getting as much meaning into 140 characters as possible," says James McQuivey, a researcher at Forrester. "Someday I'll tell my grandkids how hard it was in my prime: 'We had to Tweet with just 140 characters, uphill, both ways!'"

The new limit gives more space to breathe, let thoughts expand, and possibly lower the difficulty level for anyone new to the service.

Some of the most active users say Twitter is walking away from part of what makes it so special.

"There's a sense of loss," says Noah Mallin, head of content at MEC. "The 140-limit really forced you into the clearest, most distilled expression. I'm sure the growth of people screen-shooting text helped to move this along, so I get that they saw a need. I think they want to still keep it from going to a longer character count than this. Otherwise it becomes Medium and we are blogging instead of micro-blogging."

People indeed often got around character limits by sharing images of longer texts, one of the behaviors that prompted CEO Jack Dorsey to start considering changes to the maximum.

Also, Twitter stopped including photos and other media elements toward the character limit.

Twitter is not extending the new limit of 280 character to Japan, China or Korea, because those languages do more with fewer characters, the company said in its blog post.

English, French, Portuguese and Spanish were included in the change.

"Trying to cram your thoughts into a Tweet," Aliza Rosen, Twitter product manager, and Ikuhiro Ihara, senior software engineer, said in the blog post. "We've all been there, and it's a pain."

Research shows the character limit is a "major source of frustration," according to the post, with 9 percent of tweets in English running up against it. In markets where the limit is less of a problem, more people tweet, the company says.

"We understand since many of you have been Tweeting for years, there may be an emotional attachment to 140 characters. we felt it, too," the post reads. "But we tried this, saw the power of what it will do, and fell in love with this new, still brief, constraint."

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