The Twitter IPO is rolling along, which means the clock is ticking until the service crashes and burns. But in the meantime, we can look through Twitter’s documentation and wonder why anybody thinks it’s worth a billion dollars. Because, according to Twitter itself? It isn’t.
Where to start, because there’s a lot in the filing to tell you the Twitter IPO is a bad idea. Let’s start with the money.
Twitter Isn’t Making Money And In Fact Is Making Less Money Over Time
Perhaps the most jolting thing is that Twitter lost $69 million in the first six months of 2013, and that loss went up 41% from last year. Yes, Twitter isn’t just losing money: Twitter is losing more money as it grows. To be fair, revenue has tripled year over year, so there’s that.
Twitter Is Smaller Than You Might Think
218 million active users. That’s a fifth of Facebook, and only about fifty million more than Instagram. Honestly, this is probably the most surprising and concerning factoid in the whole filing, not least because Twitter is a damn sight less intrusive and easier to use than Facebook.
Twitter Has No Way To Figure Out How Far A Tweet Goes
The company has admitted that it can’t track timeline viewing and other activity from third-party clients, which means it basically has no idea what a big chunk of its users are actually looking at. This is kind of a problem if you’re selling a business that is essentially based entirely on advertising.
Twitter Had To Invent Its Own Metrics To Look Good
Finally, Twitter is, before we even get to the stock market, kind of fudging the numbers. Internet companies generally break things down using the ARPU, or average revenue per user. Twitter has decided that homey don’t play that and invented ARPTV, or average revenue per timeline view, a metric only they use. Timeline view is defined as “the total number of timelines requested when registered users visit Twitter, refresh a timeline or view search results while logged in on our Web site, mobile Web site or desktop or mobile applications.”
You know, that stuff they admit elsewhere in the filing that they can’t fully track. That stuff.
I like Twitter, and I want the servers to stay on, so I’m kind of hoping that they realize what a terrible idea it is. Failing that, I’m hoping they get bought out. Come on, Google, you can fork over a billion bucks and add Twitter to Google+! It means we’d use Google+!