Twitter ad revenue has halved since Elon Musk took over

While Zuckerberg's Threads reels in users at record rates

Despite the best efforts of Elon Musk, the world's most compelling/irritating social media platform has been more or less assured as the go-to outlet for the political commentary, shitposting and cat pics. But that looks set to change.

Two news items seem to turn the handle on the doom cycle which has captured Twitter. First on the list is the fact that the business has seen nearly half its ad revenue disappear since Musk took over with a heavily financed $44 billion package.

He reported at the weekend, via Twitter, that June's sales had been disappointing, but said July was a "bit more promising."

It appears that Musk's insistence at amplifying alt-right brain dumps and the decision to sack about half of Twitter's 7,500 staff, including a sizable chunk of the engineering workforce, is not washing with advertisers.

A casual scroll through the site reveals a roster of ad spenders teeming with gadgets, gaming and gambling in stark contrast to the A-list of FMCGs, retailers and automotive manufacturers any flick through the television channels would highlight.

Meanwhile, cash flow remains negative as Twitter struggles to service the $13 billion loans the company took on when Musk bought it. Add to all this the general vibe of a business unwilling to pay its rent, IT bills and even, seemingly, the severance pay for laid-off staff, and perhaps its understandable that some big-name advertisers are voting with their wallet.

Musk added at the weekend: "Need to reach positive cash flow before we have the luxury of anything else".

Nonetheless, the argument in Twitter's favor has been that there was no viable alternatives out there. Perhaps that argument now has an answer.

Step forward Mark Zuckerberg with item two. The billionaire ghost-faced board rider, who founded Grandma's favorite Facebook in 2005, has smelled blood in the water. His social media empire, which includes the selfie site Instagram, launched Threads, a Twitter rival, in early July.

It now has 150 million users, according to some estimates, including 100 million who signed up in the first five days. But its success is far from guaranteed. Although it has sparked the registration of users, signs of engagement are not necessarily promising.

Nonetheless, it has Musk's attention. His team is threatening to sue Meta for "systematic, willful, and unlawful misappropriation of Twitter's trade secrets and other intellectual property," according to news site Semafor.

Whoever comes out on top, users may find the choice about as appealing as deciding which of their arms they would like to see surgically removed. ®

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