Twitter files its annual report after a rough year: monthly active users stagnate as head count remains stubbonly high
Twitter has missed its own targets for a reduction in its head count as it struggles with stagnant user growth and stalling revenue.
Despite promising to rein in costs, staff numbers at Twitter rose by approximately 260 full-time employees over the year to hit a whopping 3,898 at the end of December 2015.
At the tail end of last year, just days after it was confirmed co-founder Jack Dorsey would be reinstated as permanent chief executive, the micro blogging site announced it would be cutting 336 jobs, around eight per cent of its global workforce, as part of a restructuring plan for the business.
The swelling ranks at Twitter have not be able to prevent senior staff bailing out of the floundering firm, with senior vice-president of engineering Alex Roetter, vice-president of global media Katie Jacobs Stanton, HR vice-president Skip Schipper and senior vice-president of product Kevin Weil all announcing they were leaving the firm in January.
Twitter has come under increased pressure from shareholders in recent months to grow its user base and raise revenues, as rivals Facebook and Snapchat continue to surge ahead.
Twitter's share price has lost around 70 per cent in value over the past two years, from highs of $69 in January 2014, to $18.48 currently. It's shares have surged today however, up almost three per cent as investors digest the latest annual report filling.
The challenge of user growth is still vexing the fledgling company. In its annual report Twitter said it will focus on new features to attract users: “We believe that returning to meaningful monthly active user growth is dependent on improving our product and feature offerings to demonstrate our value proposition to a larger audience.”
Two things are going to dominate Twitter's attempts to do this: Mobile (which appears 90 times in the company's filling) and "live" (which appears 56 times).
Twitter has added dedicated Gif search and support to its mobile apps in recent weeks, as well as improvements around its video Vine and Periscope services.
There have been fears by the Twitter faithful that the service will move away from its live element, though Twitter has sought to dispel these worries, writing:
Our service is live — live commentary, live connections, live conversations. Whether it is breaking news, entertainment, sports, or everyday topics, hearing about and watching a live event unfold is the fastest way to understand the power of Twitter. Twitter has always been considered a ‘second screen’ for what is happening in the world and we believe we can become the first screen for everything that is happening now.
Rumours are set to persist however that the micro blogging service won't stay as micro for long. There was no mention in the annual filling of Twitter's 140 character limit on posts, something that many have suggest Twitter could be about to ditch in favour of longer posts.