Twitter's revenue and earnings said to have plunged 40% in December

Amazon threatens to withhold advertising spending after Twitter 'delayed cloud services payments for months'

Advertising spending on Twitter has dropped 71 per cent since Elon Musk took over the company, research data has shown. Reuters
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Twitter's revenue and adjusted earnings plunged by 40 per cent on an annual basis in December as several advertisers withdrew after Elon Musk took charge of the company, the Wall Street Journal has reported.

The decline was announced in an update to the California-based company's investors, the Journal reported on Friday.

Advertising spending on the social media platform has dropped 71 per cent since Mr Musk took over the company, which he bought on October 27 for $44 billion, data from research company Standard Media Index shows.

The reported drop in revenue may not come as a surprise because Mr Musk has alienated users and advertisers over his handling of the company.

He emphasised the importance of its reach in a tweet on Thursday.

"The ability of Twitter advertising to reach the most influential people in the world is often not fully appreciated," Mr Musk said.

"While a few other social networks are technically bigger, Twitter is where the writers and leaders spend their time."

It is unclear whether this tweet was related to the story in the Journal. Twitter has not responded to the news or requests for comment from The National.

Meanwhile, Mr Musk has been accused of delaying Twitter's payment for Amazon's cloud computing services "for months", prompting the e-commerce company to threaten to withhold its advertising payment to Twitter, The Information reported on Friday.

Sales and marketing staff at the social media company were informed by colleagues in February about Amazon's threat, the report said.

Twitter and Amazon have not yet responded to the story.

Mr Musk's time at the helm of Twitter has been tumultuous, marked by controversial moves.

He has sacked more than half of the company's employees and shut down units and offices globally, raising concerns that there may not be enough people to carry out oversight roles in key areas of its operations.

Mr Musk previously claimed the company was losing $4 million a day and laid out plans to boost the platform's revenue by five times to $26.4 billion by 2028.

In November, he raised the possibility of the company going bankrupt.

In Twitter's last financial report before its acquisition, the company swung to a net loss of more than $270 million in the second quarter of 2022, compared with a net income of about $65.6 million in the same period a year earlier.

Last month, Mr Musk said Twitter's algorithm could be opened up to the public, but nothing has yet come to fruition.

Such a move would set the stage for a major shift in the company's direction, as opening up the company's code will allow the public to inspect and scrutinise the social media company's proprietary software, pitch their ideas to developers on how to change Twitter's algorithm or even use it in their own apps.

Last month, Twitter said it would charge its users to use two-factor authentication to secure their accounts through text message, another apparent move to tap into new revenue streams.

The company is also moving forward with plans to introduce a payments feature on its platform, steering it towards Mr Musk's plans to tap into new revenue streams, the Financial Times reported in January.

Speaking at the World Government Summit in Dubai last month, Mr Musk said the journey so far had been “quite a rollercoaster” as he tried to “stabilise Twitter”.

He said he went ahead with the purchase because he wanted to create a trusted digital platform.

The Information has also reported that Mr Musk is assembling a team that includes a former engineer at a unit of Google parent Alphabet, to develop a rival to OpenAI's text-based program ChatGPT.

Mr Musk is in discussions with Igor Babuschkin, who recently left DeepMind AI, to lead a group of artificial intelligence researchers in the endeavour. The talks have been going on "in recent weeks".

Updated: March 04, 2023, 10:11 AM