Disappearing Act: Twitter Reports Flatlining User Growth

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -

Twitter showed no user growth at all in a fourth-quarter report released Wednesday, the clearest signal yet that the one-time trendsetter is struggling to remain relevant. It has 320 million monthly users.

CEO Jack Dorsey is working hard to reconfigure the decade-old service. That’s trickier than it sounds, since he also needs to avoid alienating a core of devoted users who depend on it to tweet their thoughts and track issues that matter to them.

Dorsey took a step in that direction Wednesday, announcing plans to tweak Twitter’s timeline to highlight tweets that the company believes will appeal the most to each user, instead of only presenting them in reverse chronological order. He also has hinted that Twitter may lift its long-standing 140-character limit on the length of each tweet.

“We are going to fix the broken windows and confusing parts” of the service, Twitter wrote in a letter accompany the fourth-quarter report.

Flatlining user growth also suggests that Twitter’s previous effort to make the service more accessible — Moments, a tool that compiles tweets about major events in a graphic, online-magazine style — hasn’t done much to get people excited since its October debut.

Twitter lost another $90 million during the final three months of last year, preserving its profitless history. Revenue rose 48 percent from the previous year to $710 million, providing some measure of hope that the service can still be turned into a viable business.

That lackluster performance has hammered Twitter’s stock, now down more than 50 percent since Dorsey returned as CEO last summer.