Twitter’s Q4 2015 earnings show stagnated user base growth

Patrick O'Rourke

February 10, 2016 5:26pm

It’s been an eventful month for Twitter.

Late January saw four executives leave the company and then today Twitter rolled a controversial new algorithmic timeline feature. Also today, the company quietly revealed its fourth-quarter 2015 earnings through an investor’s letter.

Twitter’s fourth quarter 2015 earnings report indicates $710 million USD in revenue and a net loss of $90 million USD. During the same quarter last year the company’s revenue grew by 90 percent, while its net losses shrunk 27 percent.

The most negative portion of the social network’s earnings report however, stems from the fact that its user base growth has stalled significantly. Twitter says it has 320 million active users this quarter, which is the exact same number the company reported in Q3 2015.

Delving into specifics, if you exclude SMS Fast Followers, international Twitter users that utilize the SMS version of the social network, its user base has actually shrunk to 305 million from 307 million.

In a letter to investors, Twitter laid out its plans for 2016, emphasizing that the social network views its ability to capture live events as a distinct advantage over the functionality other social networks offer.

“We have five priorities in 2016 to serve this focus: refinement of our core service; live streaming video; our creators and influencers; safety; and developers. Each is critical to us strengthening our platform and audience around live,” reads the financial statement.

The letter also mentions that the company has plans to change how it handles harassment and abuse through its service, although Twitter refrains from outlining specific plans to solve these issues.

“We will continue to invest more resources in making our platform safer. We stand for freedom of expression, and people must feel safe in order to speak freely. Online harassment and abuse is a difficult challenge. This year we will implement technology to help us detect the use of repeat abusive accounts, make it much simpler to report multiple abusive Tweets or accounts, and give people simpler tools to curate and control their experience on Twitter.”

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey also mentions in the letter that Twitter plans to simply its reply process, arguably one of the platform’s more confusing elements for new users.

“We are going to fix the broken windows and confusing parts, like the .@name syntax and @reply rules, that we know inhibit usage and drive people away.”

Given Twitter’s stalled growth, it makes sense for the company to focus on its strengths moving into 2016, placing a significant emphasis on the platform’s ability to cover live events in a way other forms of social media isn’t able to.

Related reading: Twitter launches new algorithmic ‘Show me the best Tweets first’ timeline option

  • thomas nguyen

    I don’t see this as anything new, whoever has twitter is already using it, for someone without twitter, there is nothing twitter has that benefit it’s user base, we have snapchat, facebook, instagram as primary sources of communication / sharing services

  • cartfan88

    Twitter is garbage. It’s a singular platform for one way commentary from social justice warrior. Dissenting opinions need not apply.