Twitter’s fourth-quarter results: The TechCrunch Review

Here at TechCrunch, we cover company earnings on a pretty regular basis. And we promise it’s for a good reason: The success and failure of these publicly-traded companies tends to give us at least one more data point when it comes to calibrating which technologies are exciting to investors, as well as the trajectory of those technologies.

One of our favorite companies to cover, Twitter, reported theirs this morning at an alarmingly early time for West Coast technology writers and reporters. We’ll cut the East Coast a break because it’s only 7 a.m. when they come out. But at the same time we are obsessed with digging through these numbers because it’s such a weird company to follow, where extending an input box from 140 characters to 280 characters is considered an earth-shattering product change.

(To be sure, by Twitter standards, it definitely is. Tweetstorms were always awful and we will never forgive Marc Andreessen for making them a thing.)

So we reviewed the details of that information this morning and listened to them talk about some advertising stuff on the earnings call — a conference call that each company generally holds after each report to allow analysts to answer their questions and are asked to limit themselves to one follow-up (which never happens).

But, since it’s Twitter, we should review the review. The mechanics of a lot of earnings calls are generally pretty meh, unless Elon Musk is on the phone and he talks about how sending a car careening into an asteroid belt is a metaphor for a company’s ability to meet production targets. Twitter really wasn’t that much of an exception, with questions on the earnings call restricted to pretty mechanical elements of the company’s business outside of a question asking about whether they will actually talk about daily active users.

They did, indeed, not talk about daily active users. But we did get this awesome chart about how daily active users have grown year-over-year, which we’ve mentioned a couple times that we probably need more information about this chart to make heads or tails of it. Here’s that very good chart, in all its glory:

There are a couple things about this chart (and some of the other charts, too). The first is that this thing definitely needs a Y-axis label. We’d prefer a grid with some numerical values, but honestly at this point just a label will do. The whole “y/y” text on the top probably dovetails with the company’s zealous approach to cramming as much information into as few characters as possible, but on this slide presentation I feel like the titles can be a little more robust. We’ll give points for the color scheme, though, as it does a good job of staying on brand. As a whole, Twitter’s earnings presentation does have a lot of charts, and those charts do break down the subject matter pretty well, all things considered.

As always, early-morning Earnings Twitter is really good Twitter. Here are some highlights:

The stock exploded after Twitter released the report, as it finally seems to be making some money even though its user growth was basically flat. So seeing a stock chart that has a lot of vertical lines, whether it’s a big jump or a falling off a cliff, is always pretty fun because it shows just how volatile these companies are and how vulnerable they are to momentum swings in their business. Twitter had a big run at the end of 2017 and for now is actually worth more than Snap, which is something we should probably come to expect at this point.

Seriously, just look at the chart. There’s a lot going on in that chart!

The final commentary we’d like to add here is the audio call quality. When you look at Google, which was a pioneer in earnings audio call quality that was not a live-streamed video version of the call, it’s really not acceptable at this point to have the kind of fuzzy sound coming from your web browser that most companies’ calls have. Even Apple has managed to sort it out in such a way that they have good fidelity on their earnings calls, though you have to open Safari for them (if you’re a Chrome user this is kind of annoying).

The main issue, as we always have, is this thing is at 4 a.m. on the West Coast. In the grand scheme of things this is kind of a nitpick but at the same ti-falls asleep on desk.

Things seem to have been all right as a whole. Here’s our final verdict:


Anyway, that’s it for now. I’m gonna run to The Creamery for more coffee. Have a good morning, everyone.