UPDATED with Jack Dorsey comments: A month after booting former President Donald Trump from its service, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said the giant social media platform is “much larger than any one topic or any one account. He noted the company has a huge international following and a number of large accounts.
“With everything that has been happening in the world, in the U.S. and on our service around the U.S. elections, we have been getting a number of question from you all on our audience” said Dorsey, referring to financial analysts on a conference call after fourth-quarter earnings. Dorsey didn’t mention Trump said he was “anticipating the question.” He noted that a big chunk of Twitter’s audience is outside the U.S (155 million last quarter versus 37 million Stateside) and that the service has more than 50 accounts with over 25 million followers.
Trump had about 88 million Twitter followers. Twitter suspended him permanently on Jan. 8 after the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol several days before. Today was the first day of his impeachment trial in the Senate for inciting the mob. “I am really proud of how we navigated 2020.” He said the platform is not dependent on politics and in any case is trying with some success to nudge users and advertisers to focus on “Interests” and “Topics” as it rolls out features that make them easier to navigate. As of last quarter there were more than 6,000 Topics users can chose – including an expanded catalogue of TV shows.
There’s always lots of talk on calls about Twitter’s upgrade and relaunch of MAPS, its Mobile Application Promotion offering. Execs said new ad formats, stronger attribution, and improved targeting resulted in a 31% year-over-year increase in total ad revenue and greater than 50% year-over-year growth in MAP revenue last quarter. Commerce is coming, down the road. And Twitter continues to build out teams and testing around a subscription service but had nothing new to report there. Dorsey et al will be holding a Twitter analysts’ day on Feb. 25.
Previously: Twitter hit daily active users of 192 million for the three months ended in December, up 27% year on year and five million more than the previous quarter as the social media giant beat Wall Street’s forecast on the top and bottom line.
Shares were up nearly 4% in after-hours trading.
User numbers did not include Twitter’s January decision to block former President Donald Trump – first temporarily then permanently — from the platform following the storming of the Capitol. Twitter earnings released after market close coincide with the start of Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate for inciting the violence. CEO Jack Dorsey may comment on the flurry surrounding the former president’s suspension on a conference call set for 6 pm ET.
The company hinted that any blow was limited. As of the end of January, it said, the increase in daily active users was above the historical average for the past few years and that it expects to grow users 20% for the full quarter year on year.
Revenue of $1.29 billion was up 28% year over year, reflecting better-than-expected performance across all major products and geographies, the company said Tuesday. Advertising revenue totaled $1.15 billion, up 31% year over year. That drove profit, with operating income of $252 million versus $153 million. Net income came in at $222 million, diluted EPS was $0.27.
“2020 was an extraordinary year for Twitter. We are more proud than ever to serve the public conversation, especially in these unprecedented times,” said CEO Jack Dorsey. “Our product changes to date are promoting healthier conversations for those who use our service, including advertisers and partners, and we are excited about our plans to continue innovating in 2021.”
Twitter forecast that revenue for the current first quarter of 2021 will come in between $940 and $1.04 billion.
Beyond the current quarter, Twitter said, user comparisons may suffer. “The significant pandemic-related surge we saw last year continues to create challenging comps, and may lead to quarterly growth rates in the low double digits on a year-over-year basis in Q2, Q3, and Q4, with the low point likely in Q2.