Twit­ter marks its 10th birth­day

The Pak Banker - - COMPANIES/BOSS -

SAN FRAN­CISCO: As Twit­ter marks its 10th birth­day Mon­day, it is some­what of an awk­ward child - hav­ing be­come a pow­er­ful com­mu­ni­ca­tion tool but still strug­gling to win users and reach prof­itabil­ity.

Since mak­ing a star-qual­ity en­trance a decade ago, Twit­ter has be­come a must-have tool for jour­nal­ists, ac­tivists and celebri­ties but has strug­gled to show it can ex­pand be­yond its de­voted "twit­terati" to be­come a main­stream hit.

While In­ter­net lovers might have trou­ble en­vi­sion­ing life with­out Twit­ter, the San Fran­cisco-based com­pany has seen its stock tank, a chief ex­ec­u­tive leave, and its staff cut.

Twit­ter's woes in­clude a slump in its stock price to all­time lows this year - down nearly half from its 2013 stock mar­ket de­but - and on­go­ing losses, even as its rev­enue grows.

Twit­ter's base of monthly ac­tive users re­mained stuck at 320 mil­lion at the end of 2015. While that is a big ac­com­plish­ment, Twit­ter has failed to keep pace with fast-grow­ing ri­vals and to ex­pand be­yond its base.

The trou­bles have forced Twit­ter to bring back co­founder Jack Dorsey as chief ex­ec­u­tive, but that has not stemmed ru­mors about a pos­si­ble buy­out or merger.

"It's not dead yet," in­de­pen­dent an­a­lyst Rob En­derle of the En­derle Group said of Twit­ter.

"Watch­ing all the met­rics, you see they are not get­ting a lot worse but they don't seem to be get­ting bet­ter ei­ther." Some an­a­lysts be­lieve Twit­ter's true value is be­ing demon­strated in the US pres­i­den­tial race, es­pe­cially by the Repub­li­can fron­trun­ner, Don­ald Trump.

"Eight weeks ago I would have said the days of Twit­ter are over; I don't say that any­more," Global Eq­ui­ties Re­search an­a­lyst Trip Chowdhry told AFP. The an­a­lyst said Trump has shown how po­tent Twit­ter can be for those who em­brace it.

"I think that prob­a­bly the worst for Twit­ter is over," Chowdhry said. "This plat­form has legs."

Chowdhry said In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi also used Twit­ter ef­fec­tively to win his cam­paign and Tesla founder Elon Musk has been shak­ing up the auto sec­tor with the help of the mes­sag­ing plat­form.

Twit­ter and other so­cial me­dia have been im­por­tant tools in move­ments such as the Arab Spring, and in protests in Turkey, where the govern­ment has sought to ban it.

An ad­van­tage of Twit­ter is that it lets users "amplify" mes­sages with tweets that echo on the In­ter­net, and as­sess pub­lic sen­ti­ment in real-time by get­ting quick feed­back.

Trump has boosted the num­ber of his fol­low­ers to nearly seven mil­lion, and has man­aged to beat ri­vals with a cam­paign largely based around Twit­ter.

"I am pretty sure most of his fol­low­ers are not on Twit­ter, but they know what he is say­ing on Twit­ter," an­a­lyst Omar Akhtar of the tech­nol­ogy re­search firm Al­time­ter Group, said of Trump. "The Twit­ter ef­fect can­not be ig­nored. Twit­ter has a life be­yond its plat­form, the trou­ble is it doesn't know how to mon­e­tize that part." The re­search firm eMar­keter low­ered its rev­enue es­ti­mates for Twit­ter this month, say­ing its "monetization" ef­forts - the sell­ing of ad­ver­tis­ing or "pro­moted tweets" for those who use the plat­form with­out log­ging in - are fall­ing short.

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