Like any ecosystem in which a Darwinist circle of life reigns supreme, Silicon Valley has its predators and it has its prey. But unlike natural selection - in tech - those roles are fluid.
For more than a year, the most wounded and hunted figure in the industry was Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer. While other tech executives might have fared worse over that period (*cough* Elizabeth Holmes) Mayer's position at the helm of a huge company with very public problems made her the ultimate example of Silicon weakness. Her visage came to personify a perpetual state of missteps and impossible positions, making her the premiere sad sack celeb of Silicon Valley...the Brian Moynihan of tech.
But now, Marissa has offloaded what was left of Yahoo's struggling assets for a tidy sum and her notoriety will fade as the deal with Verizon moves into its boring nesting phase. That is good news for Mayer and Yahoo, but it also means that the throne of tech infamy is vacant, and that is bad news for someone else.
Speaking of which, hey Mike Isaac of the NY Times, how did Twitter's most recent quarter go?
On Tuesday, Twitter’s ailing position among its peers was underscored once more when the company reported its worst quarterly revenue growth ever and only a slight increase in users for the second quarter. The company also signaled that its prospects were unlikely to improve in the short term.
Twitter posted revenue of $602 million for the quarter, up 20 percent from a year ago and below Wall Street estimates of $607 million. Its net loss narrowed to $107 million, or 15 cents a share. Twitter’s users grew 3 percent from a year ago, to 313 million.
As many of you know, the insider finance lingo for that kind of performance is "Not In The Face."
Since returning (part-time) to the CEO role at Twitter last summer, Jack Dorsey has managed to do...well, not much with the company he founded. Dorsey has tweaked ("favs" to "likes") and introduced new functionalities whilst rethinking Twitter's ad business. He's also, like Mayer, dealt with terrible staff morale and turnover of high-level executives at a rate more often seen in the presidential cabinet of a violent dictatorship. There's also the issue of a rather active and fractured board, something with which Marissa became quite well-acquainted.
And the results speak to that. Twitter's stock price in the last year looks #bad...
But, one assumes Dorsey would say in his defense, things were not great before he returned (part-time) to replace ousted former CEO Dick Costolo. He's inherited a bad situation and seen it worsen despite his best efforts.
Hmm, who does that sound like?
And like Mayer had to manage Yahoo in the dark thanks to the enormous shadow cast over it by Google, Dorsey's Twitter has seen itself veritably overwhelmed by the juggernaut performance of a nominal rival.
The Silicon Valley company on Wednesday reported blockbuster second-quarter earnings, with strong increases across almost every measure. Facebook said sales totaled $6.44 billion for the quarter, up 59 percent from a year ago, while profit almost tripled to $2.06 billion.
The rise was driven by strong mobile ad sales, as well as a steady ascent in its number of users. Facebook now counts 1.71 billion monthly active users, up 15 percent from a year ago. And in a sign of how indispensable the social network is to people, the amount of money the company can squeeze from each user globally jumped to $3.82, up from $2.76 a year earlier. In the United States and Canada, Facebook’s most valuable markets, the company makes an average of $14.34 per user.
Judging from that, one could understandably assume that Facebook reported these earnings while a choir sang and a flock of doves were released into a bright, Palo Alto sky.
Speaking of ascension:
Facebook is eating Dorsey's lunch while he tries to keep Twitter relevant and begs shareholders to focus on the long-term. He has "a plan" and just needs the time to get it all together. He can deliver the value, he just needs to make a few changes, clean up some existing business lines, maybe acquire a startup or two, and then Twitter will compete with Facebook. Shareholders just need to sit on their hands and sell buttons, everything will be made clear in time.
We've seen this play before, and it felt like a tragedy.
Now, we're not saying Jack is months away from selling Twitter to a phone company for pennies on the dollar of its highest valuation, but we will start to get really concerned if he throws an ill-themed holiday party, makes a deal with Mozilla or starts getting caught hanging out with Frank Quattrone.