Tuesday January 17, 2017

Can Twitter remain a viable business?

Twitter's growth has slowed, stock has plunged, advertisers aren't interested and it's crawling with trolls and bullies, can Twitter survive?

Twitter's growth has slowed, stock has plunged, advertisers aren't interested and it's crawling with trolls and bullies, can Twitter survive? (Kacper Pempel/Reuters)

Listen 25:12

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Despite hundreds of millions of tweets sent from users around the world, Twitter has struggled to generate ad revenue and attract new investors. Right now, the company's stock sits at just above $17 US.

There's no doubt of Twitter's usefulness as a communications platform for the digital age. U.S. president-elect Donald Trump proves its power every day — sometimes every hour!

But Twitter's future as a company is less certain as it battles both financial woes, and the PR problems caused by its problems with trolls and bullies on the service.

Twitter Logo 2016

Trump keeps Twitter in the news, but can the business attract new users? (Twitter)

So what has Twitter done wrong up until this point?

According to Globe and Mail's technology reporter Shane Dingman it comes down to advertising.

"Twitter's advertising stays on Twitter whereas data from Facebook and Google goes out across the web and you can use it to inform buying and purchasing decisions, if you're a seller of ads or just a merchant in lots of different places and Twitter just doesn't do that — it sort of sticks in its own universe."

Technology consultant Alice Bonasio agrees the advertising model strategy is "clearly not working."

"What they're doing wrong is that they're not doing a good job of actually capitalizing on what their true value is," Bonasio tells The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti.

"The true value of Twitter in my mind is not its data and its advertising as such, but it is in the way that it provides a voice to the community and it does so in a way that is unique to that platform," says Bonasio

"Now I don't think that that came about as a design thing, it's grown organically to become that."

Bonasio says Twitter serves more as a public service than a commercial platform — a very strange position for a major technology company to be in.

"But I think that the leadership actually needs to recognize it and and do a radical pivot if it is to actually survive going forward."

When it comes to growth, tech industry analyst Rob Enderle tells Tremonti the problem with Twitter is they aren't making enough money.

"When you're losing your executive staff and you're doing layoffs to break even — that's selling off your future. Layoffs are not a way to grow."

"They are trending in the wrong direction."

Listen to the full segment at the top of this web post.

This segment was produced by The Current's Idella Sturino and Sam Colbert.