Three of the early darlings of Web 2.0 have nearly died. Each has a stock price that has collapsed over the past two years, while the Nasdaq has jumped 18% to an all-time high. Yelp Inc. (NASDAQ: YELP), Groupon Inc. (NASDAQ: GRPN) and Twitter Inc. (NASDAQ: TWTR) shares have cratered. One reason the shares are down, aside from their financial performance, is that no other company is likely to acquire them.
Twitter, which just announced earnings, is the worst off of these. Its shares are down 67% over the period to $15.58. Earnings for the past quarter showed its user base grew only 1% sequentially, a startling problem when almost all major social media businesses are booming. Monthly active users were only 319 million, up from 317 million in the previous quarter. For the quarter, revenue rose only 1% year over year to $717 million. Twitter’s chance to be bought happened several months ago when Salesforce.com Inc. (NYSE: CRM) and several other companies showed interest. Salesforce in particular was savaged by investors for its consideration. All potential buyers disappeared.
Groupon shares are off 52% to $3.58 over the past two years. It will not announce earnings until February 15. Zacks pointed out on December 30:
Shares of Groupon Inc. GRPN fell 4.86% to close at $3.33 on Dec 29, its lowest level since Jul 6, 2016. The decline apparently reflected weak holiday season sales amid increasing competition in the deals market. We also note that the current stock price reflects almost 44% decline from the peak of $5.94 that Groupon reached on Aug 9.
Groupon may have popularized the online coupon business, but major retailer and restaurant chains have followed into the business. Groupon has been swamped by competition. Its stock recently ran up on a rumor that China online giant Alibaba might acquire it. Those rumors disappeared as quickly as they came.
The key to Groupon’s challenge was in its third-quarter numbers. The company has stopped growing:
Gross Billings were $1.43 billion in the third quarter 2016, down 2% from $1.47 billion in the third quarter 2015.
Revenue was $720.5 million in the third quarter 2016, compared with $713.6 million in the third quarter 2015.
Yelp is the one of the three that has posted poor results most recently. On the surface, the numbers were fine, but Wall Street crushed its shares due to the company’s forecast:
For the first quarter of 2017, net revenue is expected to be in the range of $195 million to $199 million, representing growth of approximately 25% compared to the first quarter of 2016 at the midpoint of the range. Adjusted EBITDA is expected to be in the range of $25 million to $28 million. Stock-based compensation is expected to be in the range of $26 million to $27 million, and depreciation and amortization is expected to be approximately 4.5% to 5% of revenue.
For the full year of 2017, net revenue is expected to be in the range of $880 million to $900 million, representing growth of approximately 25% compared to full year 2016 at the midpoint of the range. Adjusted EBITDA is expected to be in the range of $150 million to $165 million. Stock-based compensation is expected to be in the range of $110 million to $112 million, and depreciation and amortization is expected to be approximately 4.5% to 5% of revenue.
Yelp operates a business that Wall Street believes has to grow more rapidly than 25% to be successful.
These three companies, which had promising businesses before they went public, are failures of the class of Web 2.0 companies that went public.