March 13, 2018

By Gonzalo López Martí - Creative Director, etc. / LMMiami.com

  • Twitter has posted a profit, finally, but it still shows various existential problems.
  • 90% of its revenue comes from advertising sales.
  • Risk is way too concentrated: it needs to put its eggs in different baskets.
  • Plus, its users base is made up of mostly elderly curmudgeons.
  • It is a cesspool of trolling that scares younger new users away.
  • See, Twitter is not for the thin skinned: “snowflakes” of flimsy feelings can and will get hurt the moment they put their finger in the little blue bird’s cage.
  • It needs to clean up its act
  • Can it pull it off?
  • Methinks it can.
  • Let’s see.
  • Twitter was the Facebook that couldn’t.
  • Both social platforms started roughly at the same time -mid 00s- and showed promise in equal parts.
  • The big F soared to close to 2.2 billion monthly active users in Q4 2017.
  • The little bird hovers around 330 million.
  • Facebooks IPO was a rainfall.
  • Twitter’s?
  • Not so much (to put it mildly).
  • Twitter’s acquisition strategy stalled.
  • In a legendary tale of Silicon Valley buccaneering, Mark Zuckerberg beat former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo to the punch and allegedly acquired Instagram during a weekend, a slip up that allegedly cost Costolo its job down the road.
  • After some internecine backstabbing and a fair share of palace intrigue, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey took back the reigns of the company in 2015.
  • Enter a frenzied onslaught of layoffs, reorgs, facelifts, tweaks, upgrades and attempted growth hacks.
  • Most notably the jump from 140 to 280 characters.
  • Bingo: last Thursday the company announced that it posted a $91 million profit in the last quarter of 2017, marking the first time the company has had a profitable quarter since going public in 2013.
  • Twitter (TWTR) says it expects to be profitable for all of 2018 as well.*
  • Luck played a part too: the fact that the lunatic in the White House has the habit of tweeting tirades from the comfort of the Oval Office toilet certainly helped bring back some relevance and visibility to the thing.
  • Problem is: the POTUS is a septuagenarian.
  • Twitter is not recruiting young users.
  • It remains a refuge of niche players of a certain age in assorted trades and lines of business: reporters, columnists, movie critics.
  • And trolls.
  • And “fakes”: that’d be users who deliberately remain anonymous or even steal someone else’s identity (the reason why the POTUS twitter handle is “Real Donald Trump”).
  • Plus lots of bots (shorthand for robots).
  • Did I mention trolls?
  • There’s something about the little bird’s interface that makes people bitter and hostile.
  • Not sure whether it is correlation or causality.
  • Maybe bitter & hostile people naturally gravitate to the thing.
  • For whatever reason, Twitter shows a level of snark and vitriol that simply doesn’t happen on Facebook & Instagram.
  • Not unlike a soccer stadium, it seems to provide a place for angry folks to release their hostility and bile.
  • Hence, just like people do at stadiums, users will need to pay.
  • Every user will need to enter a valid credit card to obtain a handle.
  • Want to withhold your identity?
  • Sure, but anonymous handles pay extra.
  • No credit card no service.
  • Users pay 1 cent per month for every user they follow.
  • Conversely, users get paid 1 dollar per month for every 100 users who follow them.
  • If user wants to tweet, he or she needs to buy “tweeting packages” with one-year contracts, to wit:
  • -a $60 annual plan buys a user 120 tweets per month. By the unit. Use them or lose them. No carryover. Unit price includes spontaneous non-sequitur standalone tweets, individual tweets belonging to a thread of tweets as well as tweets responding to other users (or “tweeting at other users” to use Twitter parlance).
  • -user pays 1/5 of a cent for every tweet he or she retweets or quotes
  • -user pays 1/10 of a cent for every fav he/she emits
  • -user gets paid 1/10 of a cent for every retweet he/she gets
  • -user gets paid 1/20 of a cent for every fav he/she gets
  • The premise is simple.
  • So you love free speech, huh?
  • Free as in free of charge or free as in speaking truth to power and making you voice heard no matter what?
  • Well this is your chance to put your money where your mouth is, buster.
  • A principle is only a principle when it costs you money.
  • Quality content will be rewarded.
  • Trolling will be penalized.
  • And here comes the second part of the idea.
  • Twitter will have its own “token”.
  • Yup: its own cryptocurrency.
  • Which we can christen Twitcoin or somesuch.
  • To be continued next week.
  • Stay tuned.

*Source: http://money.cnn.com/2018/02/08/technology/twitter-earnings/index.html

 

 

 

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