Twitter Inc. is going the way of Apple Inc. But is that the right way?
The social-media company announced Thursday that it would be doing away with its monthly-active-user metric after the first quarter of this year, instead replacing that disclosure with a new count for “monetizable daily active users,” or those who visit Twitter TWTR, -0.61% on a daily basis via a platform that is able to show ads.
Investors have been clamoring for more disclosures around Twitter’s daily-active-user count for some time now, though losing one metric for another wasn’t likely what they had in mind. Twitter’s MAUs are in decline, while monetizable daily active users, which the company calls mDAUs, are on the rise.
Twitter’s MAU count dropped to 321 million in the latest quarter, down 9% from a year earlier, while mDAUs climbed by 9% to 126 million.
Twitter’s monthly-active-user metric continues to be impacted by efforts to “prioritize the health of the service,” according to Twitter’s earnings letter, as well as changes in how the company sends email notifications.
“We want to provide something valuable to people on Twitter every day, and we believe that monetizable DAU (mDAU), and its related growth, are the best ways to measure our success,” the company said in the letter.
The decision is reminiscent of one made by Apple AAPL, +0.03% at the end of last year, when the smartphone giant announced that it would stop disclosing unit sales for the iPhone, a metric that analysts expected to start weakening in the year ahead. At the same time, the company decided to start reporting a new figure, the gross margin of its services business, which was conveniently showing nice expansion.
Twitter shares are down 5.6% in premarket trading after the latest earnings report. The company posted better-than-expected financial results, but its first-quarter revenue outlook of $715 million to $775 million came in a bit light, as analysts surveyed by FactSet had been modeling $765 million.
Twitter expects cash operating expenses to rise 20% this year as it continues its efforts to improve platform health and conversation. The big-spending ways of internet companies have been in focus lately, as Alphabet Inc. GOOGL, -2.52% drew criticism from analysts for its hefty expenditures and limited disclosures on the topic. Investors were more forgiving this quarter toward Facebook Inc. FB, -0.39% which, like Twitter, has been spending up on efforts to curb misinformation and harmful speech.
Twitter shares have lost 2.4% over the past three months, as of Wednesday’s close, while the S&P SPX, -0.22% dropped 2.9%.
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