Twitter Inc. (NYSE: TWTR) stock has done remarkably poorly compared with many tech initial public offerings from six or seven years ago. As the Nasdaq has soared 73% over the past five years, Twitter is down 30%. It is no wonder that press reports say that a powerful institutional investor has bought a large number of shares and wants CEO Jack Dorsey ousted. Dorsey is a busy man. He also helms mobile payment company Square.
The raider who wants changes is Paul Singer, the founder and president of Elliott Management. He has aggressively attacked a number of companies in the past, after buying enough shares to give him leverage.
Dorsey took over as CEO of Twitter in 2015. The systems that run the Twitter feed and the design of the Twitter app have been glitchy for years. Twitter has 330 million users. While revenue has grown, the company has been unable to turn the huge number of users into a highly profitable and rapidly growing company.
Twitter’s most recent quarterly report demonstrates the company’s trouble. Revenue was $1 billion in the fourth quarter, up from $909 million in the year-earlier period. Net income fell from $255 million to $119 million. At the heart of the problem: “Average monetizable daily active users (mDAU) were 152 million for Q4, compared to 126 million in the same period of the previous year and compared to 145 million in the previous quarter.” The growth is modest compared to many previous years.
Dorsey’s comment about the quarter was unconvincing: “Entering 2020, we are building on our momentum — learning faster, prioritizing better, shipping more and hiring remarkable talent. All of which put us in a stronger position as we address the challenges and opportunities ahead.”
Dorsey may not be at Twitter long enough to see if his plans come true.