For those familiar with Bethany McLean's The Smartest Guys In The Room, the forthcoming comparison will make sense; for those unfamiliar with her book, regarding Enron's executive leadership, the following analogy may fall on deaf ears. In any case, allow me to preface all further Enron remarks by first decrying the company's actions. While its employees were, for the most part, incredibly intelligent, Enron epitomizes all that was, and still is, wrong with corporate America. Former CEO Jeffrey Skilling, CFO Andrew Fastow, and Founder Kenneth Lay ruined an untold number of American lives in their selfish pursuit of fraudulent wealth: an unforgivable act that will forever live in infamy on Wall Street. That being said, allow me to now offer my perspective on Twitter (TWTR).
Without hesitation, I believe Twitter's Board of Directors and C-Suite must be referred to as "The Slowest Guys In The Room;" but hey, at least they're (brutally) honest about growth prospects. For reference, Twitter reported earnings that handedly beat analyst expectations of $0.04/share and $482 million in revenue. After announcing Q2FY15 EPS of $0.07 and revenue of $502 million, Twitter shares soared double-digits; then management opened its mouth, and investors were (again) reminded that the company is governed by glorified children. CFO Anthony Noto stated that shareholders should not "expect to see sustained meaningful [user] growth... [for] a considerable period of time." Seriously? How can a 315-million member service, roughly 21% of Facebook's (FB) 1.5 billion users, indirectly claim its addressable market has become saturated? Moreover, how many more times will Twitter's PR Team use the same reasoning to shield its executives (it's getting old)?
Nevertheless, Twitter remains a "Golden Goose." The company has incredible potential, but is hindered by management's eagerness to burn through capital. It's been nearly 5 months since Dick Costolo acquired Periscope for upwards of $86 million, yet it remains a standalone app. Most professionals study and devise integrative strategies for potential M&A deals. They then implement such strategies to successfully merge their acquisition(s); Twitter has yet to demonstrate any sense of cohesiveness. Management literally cannot prioritize the company's pressing business concerns. Not surprisingly, once upbeat investors are dumping Twitter shares at a furious pace.
To hear Interim CEO & Co-Founder Jack Dorsey express his discontent is one thing, but instead of stating for the umpteenth time that Twitter's growth is "unsatisfactory... [and] unacceptable," how about actually fixing internal problems for once? To be clear, $2 billion in annual revenues is nothing to laugh at; such figures are impressive by many standards. The problem, again, comes back to management, spending, and confusion. Twitter, for the sake of investors and consumers, please announce a new CEO, align your priorities, eliminate expensive programs, take some intelligent risks, and quit whining about growth... just fix it!