Twitter loses nearly half advertising revenue since Elon Musk takeover

Since its acquisition by Elon Musk for a staggering $44 billion (£33.6 billion) in October of the previous year, Twitter has faced significant challenges in its advertising revenue. The tech entrepreneur, also known for his involvement in Tesla, took over the platform and promptly implemented cost-cutting measures, leading to the dismissal of about half of Twitter’s 7,500 employees in 2022.

Despite optimistic expectations of increased sales in June, the reality was disappointing, with a lack of substantial improvement. However, Mr. Musk expressed some hope for the future, noting that July showed slightly more promising results.

Yet, the road to recovery seemed long, particularly with the rise of rival app Threads, designed by Meta, the parent company of Instagram. Threads had garnered an impressive user base of 150 million, granting it access to approximately two billion potential users, making it a formidable competitor.

One of the critical issues plaguing Twitter was its heavy debt load. While Mr. Musk did not specify the timeline for the decline in ad revenue, he acknowledged that cash flow remained negative. The billionaire entrepreneur underscored the importance of reaching positive cash flow before considering any other luxuries.

Lucy Coutts, an investment director at JM Finn, offered some optimism, believing that Mr. Musk had the potential to turn Twitter’s fortunes around. However, she acknowledged that it might take more time than initially anticipated.

The challenges were compounded by the significant debt obligation of $13 billion that Mr. Musk needed to settle by the end of July, potentially leading to pressure on Tesla’s shares if he had to sell more of his stake in the electric car-making company.

As the CEO and majority shareholder of Tesla, Mr. Musk’s focus was not solely on Twitter. Tesla’s upcoming quarterly financial results were also under scrutiny as investors hoped for positive news.

Despite laying off thousands of employees and cutting down on cloud service costs, Twitter’s projected revenue for 2023 was set to be $3 billion, down from $5.1 billion in 2021. These figures indicated that the aggressive cost-cutting measures were not sufficient to attract advertisers who had left the platform following changes to its content moderation rules. Despite Mr. Musk’s earlier statement about advertisers’ return, it seemed that many were yet to come back.

According to Meghana Dhar, former head of partnerships at Snap and Meta, who owns Threads, Twitter had been struggling even before Mr. Musk’s buyout. The decline in Twitter’s revenue was evident even in the pre-Musk era, showing a consistent downward trend.

In an effort to rejuvenate Twitter’s fortunes, Linda Yaccarino, previously head of advertising at NBCUniversal, took over as the chief executive in June, signaling that advertising sales remained a top priority for the company.

Yaccarino planned to concentrate on video, creator, and commerce partnerships. Talks were underway with political and entertainment figures, payments services, and news and media publishers in hopes of diversifying revenue streams.

Overall, Twitter’s acquisition by Elon Musk brought significant challenges, including a sharp drop in advertising revenue, struggles to retain advertisers, and a heavy debt load. While the CEO had taken measures to cut costs, it appeared that a significant turnaround would take time and effort. The entrance of rival app Threads further intensified the competition in the social media space.

Despite the hurdles, Twitter remained focused on exploring partnerships and avenues like video and creator content to revitalize its business. Only time would tell if these efforts would lead to a sustainable recovery for the platform.

Despite the formidable challenges facing Twitter, Mr. Musk remained determined to chart a course towards profitability and growth. His leadership style and business acumen had been evident in his successes with Tesla and other ventures, leading some to believe that he had the capability to turn Twitter’s fortunes around as well.

One of the critical aspects Mr. Musk highlighted was the need for positive cash flow, a fundamental requirement for any business’s sustained operations. While the road ahead seemed arduous, he and his team were committed to exploring innovative strategies and solutions to achieve this goal.

Twitter’s focus on video, creator, and commerce partnerships signaled an effort to tap into new revenue streams and attract advertisers and users alike.

Linda Yaccarino, the newly appointed chief executive, brought a wealth of experience in advertising and media to the table. Her strategic vision and leadership skills were expected to play a crucial role in guiding Twitter through its transformation phase.

Under her leadership, the company embarked on talks with various partners from political figures to entertainment influencers, from payments services to news and media publishers, in the hopes of forging mutually beneficial collaborations.

However, amid these efforts, the competition remained fierce. Threads, the rival app under Meta’s umbrella, had made significant strides, amassing an impressive user base. The connection to Instagram, with its vast user pool, provided Threads a significant advantage in the social media landscape. Twitter faced the challenge of distinguishing itself and proving its relevance in a crowded and rapidly evolving market.

While Mr. Musk had taken measures to reduce costs by letting go of some staff, the layoffs also sparked concerns about the impact on the company’s culture and productivity. Striking the right balance between efficiency and maintaining a positive work environment was crucial to foster innovation and creativity within Twitter.

Additionally, the platform had faced criticism for content moderation issues, which played a role in some advertisers’ departure. To win back advertisers’ trust, Twitter needed to demonstrate robust content moderation practices to ensure a safe and brand-friendly environment for users and advertisers alike.

Despite the hurdles, the financial world kept a close eye on Twitter’s progress. Investors, shareholders, and industry experts eagerly awaited the company’s quarterly financial results, hoping to gain insights into its trajectory and prospects for the future. Mr. Musk’s role as the chief executive of Tesla also added an additional layer of complexity, as his actions in one company could have potential ramifications for the other.

As Twitter continued its journey to find stability and growth, it remained a platform of immense cultural significance. It had played a pivotal role in shaping public discourse, enabling global conversations, and connecting individuals from all walks of life. These inherent strengths provided a glimmer of hope that, with the right strategy and execution, Twitter could re-emerge as a thriving and influential social media platform.

In conclusion, Twitter’s acquisition by Elon Musk brought both challenges and opportunities. The platform’s decline in advertising revenue, competition from rivals like Threads, and a heavy debt burden demanded innovative solutions and strategic planning. Under Mr. Musk’s leadership and the guidance of Linda Yaccarino, Twitter embarked on a journey to revitalize its business model and regain advertisers’ trust.

As the company navigated its way through these turbulent waters, the world watched with anticipation, eager to see whether Twitter could overcome its obstacles and reclaim its position as a significant player in the social media landscape.

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