Remember Twitter? Donald Trump has made it his own and on Thursday morning, Australian eastern time, we will see if he has given the struggling tech company a boost by lifting the number of users, generating more revenue — and perhaps even profits — by whatever “elastic” measure US companies use these days.

But according to investors, Trump’s apparent monopolising of Twitter has been bad for the company — very bad, not good. Twitter’s shares ended on Friday at US$17.31 — having fallen 2.28% since the November 8 election of Trump. And Yet the S&P 500 is up more than 10% and the Nasdaq, the key tech index, is up more than 12% in the same time. A “bigly” flop, Trump might Tweet. Big time, a very, very big flop. Very bad.

In fact, this year is shaping up as the defining moment in Twitter’s brief life. It was unwanted in late 2016 as a sales process failed. Its value has collapsed after its listing more than three years ago soared to more than US$73 a share in late 2013, valuing the company at more than US$52 billion, against the US$12.5 billion at the close on Friday. It had 317 million average users a month (Facebook had more than 1.86 billion by the end of December).

US analysts say the Twitter figure will have to rise by a significant amount if the company is to avoid another sell-off. In the three months to September quarterly revenue was US$616 million, up 8% year-over-year. The quarterly net loss was US$103 million, an improvement on the more than US$131 million loss for the third quarter of 2015. Twitter said it was cutting staff by 9% to lower costs (always a bad sign). But, in the final quarter, the company launched an unsuccessful attempt to sell itself to anyone interested. No one was, not even with Donald Trump tweeting his heart out morning, noon and night. — Glenn Dyer

Peter Fray

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