Twitter is no longer adding users.
In its fourth quarter earnings report posted today, the social media giant said it had 320 million monthly active users — which is exactly what it reported after the third quarter.
In fact, excluding users who use Twitter’s “SMS Fast Followers” service that sends tweets via text, the company’s monthly active user base actually dipped from 307 million to 305 million.
Analysts expected Twitter to add users during Q4, but that did not happen. The company did however meet Wall Street’s estimates for Q4 revenue ($710 million) and earnings ($0.16 per share). Analysts expected earnings of 12 cents per share on $710 million in revenue.
“We saw a decline in monthly active usage in Q4, but we’ve already seen January monthly actives bounce back to Q3 levels,” the company wrote in a letter to shareholders. “We’re confident that, with disciplined execution, this growth trend will continue over time.”
For comparison, Facebook now counts 1.59 billion monthly active users, up 14 percent from last year.
Founded in 2006, Twitter has been under the microscope for the past several months as it struggles to attract more users. The hashtag #RIPTwitter surfaced last month and while articles like “The End of Twitter” don’t offer much hope for the future of Twitter.
Twitter saw its shares drop to all-time lows this week as its market capitalization dipped below $10 billion — a third of what it was one year ago. Shares of Twitter, which are down nearly 70 percent in the past year, were up more than 4 percent on Wednesday before falling in after hours.
In response to the slowing growth and decreasing stock price, Twitter has gone through some big changes over the past several months, including co-founder Jack Dorsey taking over as CEO, former Google veteran Omid Kordestan coming in as executive chairman, company-wide layoffs, and new products like Twitter Moments.
Twitter’s executive team also went through an upheaval last month, as its head of engineering, head of media, head of product, head of human resources, and head of Vine departed.
To attract more users, Twitter is experimenting with changes to its product. The company announced a new feature Wednesday that highlights “important” tweets above the normal timeline that shows tweets in chronological order. The idea is to surface the “tweets you’re most likely to care about,” according to Twitter.
“We believe we can become the first screen for everything that’s happening right now,” Dorsey said on the company’s earnings call today.
There are other possible changes to Twitter’s product on the horizon, like increasing the tweet character limit from 140 to 10,000.
Twitter expects revenue of $595 to $610 million for Q1 2016.
Here’s a bit from the shareholder letter, explaining Twitter’s plans for this year, including changes to the “confusing parts” of its service:
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.
First, Twitter is an iconic service and a globally recognized brand. 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. We’re going to improve the timeline to make sure you see the best Tweets, while preserving the timeliness we are known for. The timeline improvement we announced just this morning has grown usage across the board (including Tweeting and Retweeting). We’re going to improve onboarding flows to make sure you easily find both your contacts and your interests. We’re going to make Tweeting faster while making Tweets more expressive with both text and visual media. We’re going to help people come together around a particular topic, such as our @NBA timelines experiences. Relentlessly refining Twitter will enable more people to get more out of Twitter faster.
Second, we have amazing technology for live streaming video. Periscope lets anyone on the planet broadcast and watch video live with others. We recently added the ability to broadcast from a GoPro camera, and to watch any broadcast live from a Tweet. Pairing Periscope with Twitter gives broadcasters greater distribution (anywhere a Tweet can be displayed, a Periscope can too) and the ability to hook into our revenue products. We believe live streaming video is a strong complement to the live nature of Twitter, and it helps instantly explain the value of our service. We’re going to invest heavily in these first-screen, connected audience experiences. Being able to instantly broadcast and watch a live stream with others is extremely powerful and entertaining.
Third, Twitter is by far the fastest way to talk with the world. And because of that, we have the most creative and influential people and organizations in the world actively Tweeting. Whether it’s musicians releasing albums or polling people to help name their albums, journalists Tweeting their stories and getting feedback, artists, activists, athletes, and politicians, established or emerging – these are the people who shape and influence culture, and they bring the audience that follows through Twitter. And we love them! Vine and Niche have proven their ability to create new talent and match them with marketers to make a living from their passion. We will focus on helping these creators build and connect 4 with their fans and audience through Twitter by giving them better tools. And we’re going to enable more people and media partners to create and share Moments, which is proving to be a great medium for storytelling through Tweets.
Fourth, 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. But it’s not just about creating better tools and technology; we will also be smart and adaptive about our policies in this area and invest in faster response times. Finally, we’re going to emphasize educating people about our safety tools and features as we roll them out.
Fifth, we’re going to continue to invest in developers. We want developers to be able to build their businesses with Twitter. We are investing in mobile with Fabric, our platform that helps developers build, grow, and make money with their apps. Fabric has grown from 0 to 1.6 billion active mobile devices in just 18 months. We believe there’s huge strategic value in building a platform for developers that helps us grow our reach. We are investing in making it easy for developers to discover, curate, and seamlessly publish great, live stories with Twitter content using TweetDeck, Curator, and embedded Tweets. More than one billion visitors to our developers’ sites and apps already see these embedded Tweets every month. We believe that these sites and apps are incredibly important amplifiers that show the huge reach and importance of Tweets.
Finally, we will continue to invest in helping developers make their businesses more productive by understanding their customers and markets with Twitter data. After months of consideration, we’ve made significant changes to our organization to ensure more disciplined execution. We moved all of Engineering, Design, and Consumer Product under our CTO Adam Messinger. This is a new structure for our company, and we will take an engineering and designled approach to making Twitter faster and more intuitive. We moved Revenue product, our Media team, and Human Resources to our COO Adam Bain. We promoted Kayvon Beykpour, the lead for Periscope, to our executive team. Kayvon brings a very strong product sense to the table to make everything we do at Twitter better. And we added Leslie Berland to our executive team as CMO to help us better show the power of Twitter. Our top priority is to recruit phenomenal leadership who bring a fresh and creative perspective and help us recruit more great talent. Our focus on live is a unique reason to use Twitter to quickly see what’s happening in the world and talk about it. That creates a connected audience unlike any other, which continues to grow our business in a complementary way.