Earnings

Snapchat hits 218M users but big Q4 losses sink share price

Posted by | Advertising Tech, Apps, augmented reality, Earnings, Evan Spiegel, lawsuit, Mobile, snap inc, Snapchat, Snapchat earnings, Social, TC | No Comments

Snapchat still isn’t profitable nearly two years after its IPO. In Q4 2019, Snap lost $241 million on 560.8 million in revenue that’s up 44% year-over-year and an EPS of $0.03. That comes from adding 8 million daily users to reach a total of 218, up 3.8% this quarter from 210 million and 17% year-over-year.

The big problem was a one-time $100 million legal settlement that pushed it to lose $49 million more in Q4 2019 than Q4 2018. That comes from a shareholders lawsuit claiming Snap didn’t adequately disclose the impact of competition from Facebook on its business. The IPO was soured by weak user growth as people shifted from Snapchat Stories to Instagram Stories.

A rough Q4

Snapchat had a mixed quarter compared to estimates, exceeding the EPS predicitions but falling short on revenue. FactSet’s consensus predicted $563 million in revenue and a loss of $0.12 EPS. Estimize’s consensus came in at $568 million in revenue and an EPS gain of $0.02.

Snapchat shares plunged over 10% in after-hours trading following the announcement. Shares had closed up 4.17% at $18.99 today. That’s up from a low of $4.99 in December 2018 when its user count was shrinking under competition from Instagram Stories. It’s now hovering around its $17 IPO price but it’s still under its post-IPO pop to $27.09.

Snap gave stronger than expected revenue guidance for Q1 2020 of $450 million to $470 million, and 224 million to 225 million users. The company’s CFO Derek Anderson says that “Q4 marked our first quarter of Adjusted EBITDA profitability at $42 million for the quarter, an improvement of $93 million over the prior year.” Still, he predicts an Adjusted EBITDA in Q1 of negative $90 million to negative $70 million. That’s manageable for Snap without raising more money, since it now has $2.1 billion in cash and marketable securities, down $148 million quarter-after-quarter.

Snapchat 2020

“Throughout the course of 2019, we added 31 million daily active users, largely driven by investments in our core product and improvements to our Android application “said Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel . “We’ve recently completed our 2020 strategic planning process and have aligned our teams and resources around our goals of supporting real friendships on Snapchat, expanding our service to a broader global community, investing in our AR and content platforms, and scaling revenue while achieving profitability in order to self-fund our investments in the future.”

Some other highlights:

  • 1.3 trillion Snaps were created in 2019
  • The average Snapchat user engages for 30 minutes per day,
  • Snapchat reaches 90% of US 13 to 24 year-olds and over 75% of 13 to 34 year-olds
  • Total daily time spent by Snapchatters watching Discover increased by 35% year-over-year, and its up 60% for users over the age of 25
  • Over 50 Snapchat shows reached a monthly audience of 10 million viewers or more
  • 75% of users engage with augmented reality per day
  • 20% of Snaps sent with an AR lens were made with commununity-developed lenses
  • 5X more users open the Lens Explorer now versus a year ago, and 10% of users open it every day

Snapchat’s user growth has been on tear thanks to international penetration, especially in India, after it re-engineered its Android app for developing markets. It gained users in all markets. Crucially, it raised its average revenue per user 23% from $2.09 in Q4 2018 to $2.58, though only from $1.24 to $1.35 in the Rest Of World region where it’s growing user count the fastest. Snap will need to figure out how to squeeze more cash out of the international market to offset the costs of streaming tons of video to these users.

Q4 saw Snapchat readying several new products that could help boost engagement and therefore ad views. Cameos, first reported by TechCrunch, lets users graft their face onto an actor in an animated GIF like a lightweight Deepfake. Bitmoji TV, which won’t run ads initially but could drive attention to Snapchat Discover, offers zany four-minute cartoons that star your Bitmoji avatar. We could see a bump to engagement from these starting in Q1 2020.

To retain its augmented reality filter creators, Snapchat has pledged $750,000 in payouts in 2020. It’s also expanded the use of product catalog ads, and now lets advertisers buy longer skippable ads.

Outside of the legal settlement, Snapchat is inching closer to profitability but still has a ways to go. It’s managed to develop a strong synergy between its popular chat feature that’s tougher to monetize, and the Stories and Discover content where it can inject ads. The big question is whether Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp will get more serious about ephemeral messaging that’s at the core of Snapchat. If it can hold onto the market and maintain its place as where teens talk, it could ride out its costs and build revenue until it’s sustainable for the long-term.

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Facebook hits 2.5B users in Q4 but shares sink from slow profits

Posted by | Advertising Tech, Apps, Earnings, Facebook, Facebook Earnings, Facebook Earnings Q4 2019, Facebook Family of Apps, instagram, Mobile, Social, TC | No Comments

Facebook beat Wall Street estimates in Q4 but slowing profit growth beat up the share price. Facebook reached 2.5 billion monthly users, up 2%, from 2.45 billion in Q3 2019 when it grew 1.65%, and it now has 1.66 billion daily active users, up 2.4% from 1.62 billion last quarter when it grew 2%. Facebook brought in $21.08 billion in revenue, up 25% year-over-year, with $2.56 in earnings per share.

But net income was just $7.3 billion, up only 7% year-over-year compared to 61% growth over 2018. Meanwhile, operating margins fell from 45% over 2018 to 34% for 2019. Expenses grew to $12.2 billion for Q4 2019, up a whopping 34% from Q4 2018. For the year, Facebook’s $46 billion in expenses are up 51% vs 2018. One big source of those expenses? Headcount grew 26% year-over-year to 44,942, and Facebook now has over 1000 engineers working on privacy.

While Facebook’s user base keeps growing rather steadily, it’s having trouble squeezing more and more cash out of them with as much efficiency.

Facebook’s Q4 2019 earnings beat expectations compared to Zack’s consensus estimates of $20.87 billion in revenue and $2.51 earnings per share. Facebook shares fell over 7% in after-hours trading following the earnings announcement after closing up 2.5% at a peak $223.23 today. Still, Facebook remains near its previous share price high before this month.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had previously warned that addressing hate speech, election interference, and other content moderation and safety issues would be costly. Still, expenses grew and profits shrunk faster than Wall Street seems to have expected. Facebook will have to hope its promise of using scalable AI to handle more of these jobs comes to fruition soon.

But some might see today as the proper reckoning for Facebook — penance for years of neglecting safety in favor of growth. Facebook’s CFO David Wehner confirms it has also just agreed to pay $550 million in a settlement over its violation of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act. The class action suit stems from Facebook collecting users’ facial recognition data to power its Tag Suggestions feature that recommends friends tag you in photos in which you appear. The record-breaking settlement still falls far short of the $35 billion in potential penalties Facebook could have received.

Facebook’s executives are apparently bullish on its value despite the share price being at a peak, as today Facebook announced plans to grow its share-repurchase program by $10 billion, adding to its previous authorization of buying back up to $24 billion worth.

Facebook managed to add 1 million daily users in the U.S. & Canada region where it earns the most money after returning to growth there last quarter following a year of slow or no growth. Facebook’s stickiness, or daily to monthly active user ratio remained at 66% amidst competition from apps like TikTok and a resurgent Snapchat.

Masking The Shift To Instagram

Facebook notes that there are now 2.26 billion users that open either Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, or WhatsApp each day, up from 2.2 billion last quarter. The family of apps sees 2.89 billion total monthly users, up 9% year-over-year.

Facebook released a new stat with this earnings report: Family Average Revenue Per Person. That’s essentially the company’s total revenue divided by total users on Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp. Clearly, the company is trying to use Instagram’s growing ad revenue to make the rest of the company look stronger. This might help mask changes in the Facebook app’s own revenue as teens look to more youthful content feeds. Wehner confirmed the company will cease sharing Facebook-only stats in favor of Family Of Apps stats in late 2020.

Sadly Facebook’s isn’t calling this metric FARPP

Earnings Call Highlights

Zuckerberg stressed Facebook’s need to stay focused on addressing social issues and consequences of the company’s growth during the earnings call. He said Facebook will continue to make its apps more private and secure.

As for product updates, Zuckerberg seized on opportunities in commerce. Facebook is building out WhatsApp Pay, and he says “I expect this to start rolling out in a number of countries and for us to make a lot of progress here in the next six months.” 140 million small businesses now use its tools. People bought almost $5 million in content on the Oculus Store on Christmas Day, which Zuckerberg called a milestone. He says Facebook’s Spark AR platform is most used of its kind by developers, with hundreds of millions of people experiencing face filters built with it.

Regarding plans to integrate the family’s chat interfaces, Zuckerberg says Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp will retain their brands. He also noted they’re already quite integrated on the backend…which could be an attempt to persuade regulators it might be difficult to break up the company.

For guidance, Wehner said “we expect our year-over-year total reported revenue growth rate in Q1 to decelerate by low-to-mid single digit percentage points as compared to our Q4 growth rate. “Factors driving this deceleration include the maturity of our business, as well as the increasing impact from global privacy regulation and other ad targeting related headwinds.”

Wehner says to expect that the worst of these privacy headwinds are still to come due to regulatory initiatives like GDPR and CCPA, mobile operating systems and browser providers like Apple and Google limiting access to ad targeting singals, and Facebook’s own product changes like the new way to disconnect off-Facebook data from your acccount.

On Facebook’s perception issues, Zuckerberg said “We’re also focused on communicating more clearly what we stand for. One critique of our approach for much of the last decade was that, because we wanted to be liked, we didn’t always communicate our views as clearly because we were worried about offending people. So this led to some positive but shallow sentiments towards us and towards the company. And my goal for this next decade isn’t to be liked, but to be understood, because in order to be trusted, people need to know what you stand for.”

Building Despite Scrutiny

The business aside, Facebook had another tough quarter under the scrutiny of journalists and regulators. Democratic presidential candidates have railed against Zuckerberg’s decision to continuing allowing misinformation in political ads. The company dropped out of the top 10 places to work, and pledged $130 million to fund an Oversight Board for its content policies.

The CEO was grilled on Capitol Hill about Facebook’s cryptocurrency Libra that seems stuck in its tracks as major partners like Visa and Stripe dropped out. Facebook took heat for how its treats content moderators and how it tried to cut off competitors from its developer platform. The FTC continued its anti-trust investigation and weighed an injunction that would halt Facebook intermingling its messaging app infrastructure.

But those headwinds didn’t stop Facebook’s march forward. Its four main apps took the top four spots amongst the most downloaded apps of the 2010s. It moved deeper into hardware sales with its new Portal TV attachable camera. It acquired gaming companies like Playgiga and the studio behind VR hit Beat Saber, while signing exclusive game streaming deals with influencers like Disguised Toast. It launched Facebook News, Facebook Pay, its dating feature in the US, and it tested a meme-making app called Whale.

Facebook’s share price remains near an all-time high despite today’s tumble. While the world may be increasingly uncomfortable with Facebook’s access to private data, there’s no debate about how incredibly valuable that data is.

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Apple to start online sales in India in Q3 this year

Posted by | Apple, Asia, Earnings, eCommerce, Flipkart, Gadgets, hardware, india, Paytm, paytm mall, Tim Cook | No Comments

Apple’s much-awaited online store in India will be operational starting Q3 this year, a little longer than previously expected, a source familiar with the matter told TechCrunch.

The iPhone-maker said in August last year that it was “eager to serve [customers of India] online and in-store with the same experience and care that Apple customers around the world enjoy.”

While the company never shared a firm timeline on when the online and brick-and-mortar stores would be set up in India, it was originally aiming to start the online sales in the country in the first quarter of this year, the source said. (The Q1 launch timeline was first signaled by Bloomberg, which reported that the operations would begin “within months.”)

An Apple spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.

The source said the company was still working on the logistics of setting up the store and that the quarter between July and September was the new tentative deadline. Apple CEO Tim Cook would likely plan an India trip for the announcement, the source said.

The company’s first official physical store in India, to be situated in Mumbai, will take an additional few months of time for setting up and might not be ready by this year, the source said.

India, the world’s second largest smartphone market, eased sourcing norms for single-brand retailers last year, paving the way for companies like Apple to open online stores before they set up presence in the brick-and-mortar market.

Currently, Apple sells its products in India through partnered third-party offline retailers and e-commerce platforms such as Amazon India, Flipkart and Paytm Mall. Prior to New Delhi’s policy change, Apple had requested the government numerous times to relax the local foreign direct investment (FDI) rules.

Apple executives have long expressed disappointment at Amazon India, Flipkart and Paytm Mall for offering heavy discounts on the iPhone and MacBook Air to boost their respective GMV metrics, people familiar with the matter have told TechCrunch.

iPhone shipments in India grew 6% in 2019 compared with a 43% decline in 2018, according to research firm Counterpoint, which projected that the growth would continue this year.

Apple on Tuesday posted a record revenue of $91.8 billion for the quarter that ended in December. Cook said in the earnings call that India was among the markets where the company’s revenue grew in “double-digit.”

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Xiaomi’s Q3 earnings report shows slowing growth

Posted by | Android, Asia, Earnings, Gadgets, Lei Jun, miui, Xiaomi | No Comments

Xiaomi, the world’s fourth largest smartphone vendor, on Wednesday shared its earnings figures for the quarter that ended in September. While the results fell largely in line with analysts’ expectations, a drastic drop in the company’s growth underscores some of the struggles that handset makers are facing as they shift to services to make up for dwindling smartphone purchases globally.

The Chinese electronics firm posted Q3 revenue of 53.7 billion yuan, or $7.65 billion, up 3.3% from 51.95 billion yuan ($7.39 billion) revenue it reported in Q2 and 5.5% rise since Q3 2018.

This is largely in line with analysts’ estimated revenue of 53.74 billion yuan, per Refinitiv figures, but growth is slowing. As a point of comparison, in Q2, Xiaomi reported QoQ growth of 18.7% and YoY of 14.8%.

Xiaomi said its adjusted profit in the aforementioned quarter was 3.5 billion yuan ($500 million), up from about 2.5 billion yuan a year ago. Gross profit during the period was 8.2 billion yuan ($1.17 billion), up 25.2% year-over-year.

The company said its smartphone business revenue during Q3 stood at 32.3 billion yuan ($4.6 billion), down 7.8% year-over-year. The company, which shipped 32.1 million smartphone units during the period, blamed “downturn” in China’s smartphone market for the decline.

Marketing research firm Canalys reported this month that China’s smartphone market shrank by 3% during Q3. Despite the slowdown, Xiaomi said its gross profit margin of smartphones segment had reached 9% — up from 8.1% and 3.3% in the previous quarters.

Other than Huawei, which leads the handsets market in China, every other smartphone vendor has suffered a drop in their shipment volumes in the country, according to research firm Counterpoint.

But for Xiaomi, this should technically not be a problem. Long before the company listed publicly last year, it has been boasting about its business model: how it makes little money from hardware and more and more from delivering ads and selling internet services.

That internet services business is not growing fast enough, however, to be an engine for the overall company. It grew by 12.3% year-on-year to 5.3 billion yuan ($750 million) and 15% since last quarter. Either way, it accounts for only a fraction of smartphone business’ contribution to the bottomline.

Furthermore, parts of that business are facing some other challenges: Advertisement revenue has been falling for more than two consecutive quarters, the company says.

Xiaomi said two years ago that it will only ever make 5% profit from its hardware, something its executives told TechCrunch has been engraved in the company’s “constitution.” But the slow shift to making money off of internet services, while making less money from selling hardware, is one of the chief reasons why the company had an underwhelming IPO.

Meanwhile, the user base of Xiaomi’s Android -based MIUI software is growing. It had 292 million monthly active users as of September this year, up from 278.7 in June.

In more promising signs, Xiaomi said its smart TV and Mi Box platforms had more than 3.2 million paid subscribers and revenue from its fintech business, a territory it entered only in recent quarters, had already reached 1 billion yuan ($140 million).

But it’s hardware that continues to make up the biggest proportion of its revenues. The company, which is increasingly moving its gadgets and services beyond Chinese shores, said revenue from its international business grew 17.2 year-over-year to 26.1 billion yuan ($3.7 billion) in the third quarter — accounting for 48.7% of total revenue.

Much of Xiaomi’s international success could be attributed to its dominance in India, the world’s second largest smartphone market. For last nine consecutive quarters, Xiaomi has been the top smartphone vendor in India, one of the rare markets where the appetite for handsets continues to grow. Of the 32 million smartphone units the company shipped in Q3, more than 12 million of those arrived in India, according to Counterpoint.

In a statement, Xiaomi founder and chairman Lei Jun said the company is hopeful that it will be able to further grow its revenues when 5G devices start to get traction. The company has plans to launch at least 10 5G-enabled smartphone models next year, he said. No word from him on what the company intends to do about its services ecosystem.

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Tinder’s interactive video series ‘Swipe Night’ is going international next year

Posted by | Apps, dating apps, Earnings, Interactive video, Match, Media, Mobile, Social, streaming video, swipe night, Tinder, Video | No Comments

Tinder’s big experiment with interactive content — the recently launched in-app series called “Swipe Night” — was a success. According to Tinder parent company Match during its Q3 earnings this week, “millions” of Tinder users tuned in to watch the show’s episodes during its run in October, and this drove double-digit increases in both matches and messages. As a result, Match confirmed its plans to launch Tinder’s new show outside the U.S. in early 2020. 

Swipe Night’s launch was something of a departure for the dating app, whose primary focus has been on connecting users for dating and other more casual affairs.

The new series presented users with something else to do in the Tinder app beyond just swiping on potential matches. Instead, you swiped on a story.

Presented in a “choose-your-own-adventure”- style format that’s been popularized by Netflix, YouTube and others, Swipe Night asked users to make decisions to advance a narrative that followed a group of friends in an “apocalyptic adventure.”

Swipe Night ChoiceThe moral and practical choices you made during Swipe Night would then be shown on your profile as a conversation starter, or as just another signal as to whether or not a match was right for you. After all, they say that the best relationships come from those who share common values, not necessarily common interests. And Swipe Night helped to uncover aspects to someone’s personality that a profile would not — like whether you’d cover for a friend who cheated, or tell your other friend who was the one being cheated on?

The five-minute episodes ran every Sunday night in October from 6 PM to midnight.

Though early reports on Tinder’s plans had somewhat dramatically described Swipe Night as Tinder’s launch into streaming video, it’s more accurate to call Swipe Night an engagement booster for an app from which many people often find themselves needing a break. Specifically, it could help Tinder address issues around declines in open rates or sessions per user — metrics that often hide behind what otherwise looks like steady growth. (Tinder, for example, added another 437,000 subscribers in the quarter, leading to 5.7 million average subscribers in Q3).

Ahead of earnings, there were already signs that Swipe Night was succeeding in its efforts to boost engagement.

Tinder said in late October that matches on its app jumped 26% compared to a typical Sunday night, and messages increased 12%.

On Tinder’s earnings call with investors, Match presented some updated metrics. The company said Swipe Night led to a 20% to 25% increase in “likes” and a 30% increase in matches. And the elevated conversation levels that resulted from user participation continued for days after each episode aired. Also importantly, the series helped boost female engagement in the app.

“This really extended our appeal and resonated with Gen Z users,” said Match CEO Mandy Ginsberg. “This effort demonstrates the kind of creativity and team we have at Tinder and the kind of effort that we’re willing to make.”Swipe Night

The company says it will make Season 1 of Swipe Night (a hint there’s more to come) available soon as an on-demand experience, and will roll out the product to international markets early next year.

Swipe Night isn’t the only video product Match Group has in the works. In other Match-owned dating apps, Plenty of Fish and Twoo, the company is starting to test live streaming broadcasts. But these are created by the app’s users, not as a polished, professional product from the company itself.

Match had reported better-than-expected earnings for the third quarter, with earnings of 51 cents per share — above analysts’ expectations for earnings of 42 cents per share. Match’s revenue was $541 million, in line with Wall Street’s expectations.

But its fourth-quarter guidance came in lower than expectations ($545 million-$555 million, below the projected $559.3 million), sending the stock dropping. Match said it would have to take on about $10 million in expenses related to it being spun out from parent company IAC.

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Facebook shares rise on strong Q3, users up 2% to 2.45B

Posted by | Advertising Tech, Apps, Earnings, Facebook, Facebook ads, Facebook Earnings Q3 2019, Facebook Political ads, Finance, Mark Zuckerberg, Mobile, Social, TC | No Comments

Despite ongoing public relations crises, Facebook kept growing in Q3 2019, demonstrating that media backlash does not necessarily equate to poor business performance.

Facebook reached 2.45 billion monthly users, up 1.65%, from 2.41 billion in Q2 2019 when it grew 1.6%, and it now has 1.62 billion daily active users, up 2% from 1.587 billion last quarter when it grew 1.6%. Facebook scored $17.652 billion of revenue, up 29% year-over-year, with $2.12 in earnings per share.

Facebook Q3 2019 DAU

Facebook’s earnings beat expectations compared to Refinitiv’s consensus estimates of $17.37 billion in revenue and $1.91 earnings per share. Facebook’s quarter was mixed compared to Bloomberg’s consensus estimate of $2.28 EPS. Facebook earned $6 billion in profit after only racking up $2.6 billion last quarter due to its SEC settlement.

Facebook shares rose 5.18% in after-hours trading, to $198.01 after earnings were announced, following a day where it closed down 0.56% at $188.25.

Notably, Facebook gained 2 million users in each of its core U.S. & Canada and Europe markets that drive its business, after quarters of shrinkage, no growth or weak growth there in the past two years. Average revenue per user grew healthily across all markets, boding well for Facebook’s ability to monetize the developing world where the bulk of user growth currently comes from.

Facebook says 2.2 billion users access Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp or Messenger every day, and 2.8 billion use one of this family of apps each month. That’s up from 2.1 billion and 2.7 billion last quarter. Facebook has managed to stay sticky even as it faces increased competition from a revived Snapchat, and more recently TikTok. However, those rivals might more heavily weigh on Instagram, for which Facebook doesn’t routinely disclose user stats.

Facebook ARPU Q3 2019

Zuckerberg defends political ads policy

Facebook’s earnings announcement was somewhat overshadowed by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announcing it would ban all political ads — something TechCrunch previously recommended social networks do. That move flies in the face of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s staunch support for allowing politicians to spread misinformation without fact-checks via Facebook ads. This should put additional pressure on Facebook to rethink its policy.

Zuckerberg doubled-down on the policy, saying “I believe that the better approach is to work to increase transparency. Ads on Facebook are already more transparent than anywhere else,” he said. Attempting to dispel that the policy is driven by greed, he noted Facebook expects political ads to make up “less than 0.5% of our revenue next year.” Because people will disagree and the issue will keep coming up, Zuckerberg admitted it’s going to be “a very tough year.”

Facebook also announced that lead independent board member Susan D. Desmond-Hellmann has resigned to focus on health issues.

Earnings call highlights

Facebook expects revenue deceleration to be pronounced in Q4. But CFO David Wehner provided some hope, saying “we would expect our revenue growth deceleration in 2020 versus the Q4 rate to be much less pronounced.” That led Facebook’s share price to spike from around $191 to around $198.

However, Facebook will maintain its aggressive hiring to moderate content. While the company has touted how artificial intelligence would increasingly help, Zuckerberg said that hiring would continue because “There’s just so much content. We do need a lot of people.”

Zuckerberg Libra 1

Regarding Libra’s regulatory pushback, Zuckerberg explained that Facebook was already diversified in commerce if that doesn’t work out, citing WhatsApp Payments, Facebook Marketplace and Instagram shopping.

On anti-trust concerns, Zuckerberg reminded analysts that Instagram’s success wasn’t assured when Facebook acquired it, and it has survived a lot of competition thanks to Facebook’s contributions. In a new talking point we’re likely to hear more of, Zuckerberg noted that other competitors had used their success in one vertical to push others, saying “Apple and Google built cameras and private photo sharing and photo management directly into their operating systems.”

Scandals continue, but so does growth

Overall, it was another rough quarter for Facebook’s public perception as it dealt with outages and struggled to get buy-in from regulators for its Libra cryptocurrency project. Former co-founder Chris Hughes (who I’ll be leading a talk with at SXSW) campaigned for the social network to be broken up — a position echoed by Elizabeth Warren and other presidential candidates.

The company did spin up some new revenue sources, including taking a 30% cut of fan patronage subscriptions to content creators. It’s also trying to sell video subscriptions for publishers, and it upped the price of its Workplace collaboration suite. But gains were likely offset as the company continued to rapidly hire to address abusive content on its platform, which saw headcount grow 28% year-over-year, to 43,000. There are still problems with how it treats content moderators, and Facebook has had to repeatedly remove coordinated misinformation campaigns from abroad. Appearing concerned about its waning brand, Facebook moved to add “from Facebook” to the names of Instagram and WhatsApp.

It escaped with just a $5 billion fine as part of its FTC settlement that some consider a slap on the wrist, especially since it won’t have to significantly alter its business model. But the company will have to continue to invest and divert product resources to meet its new privacy, security and transparency requirements. These could slow its response to a growing threat: Chinese tech giant ByteDance’s TikTok.

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Snapchat beats in Q3, adding 7M users & revenue up 50%

Posted by | Advertising Tech, Apps, Earnings, eCommerce, Evan Spiegel, Finance, Media, Mobile, snap inc, Snapchat, Snapchat earnings, snapchat stories, Social, TC | No Comments

The Snap-back continues. Snapchat blew past earnings expectations for a big beat in Q3, as it added 7 million daily active users this quarter to hit 210 million, up 13% year-over-year. Snap also beat on revenue, notching $446 million, which is up a whopping 50% year-over-year, at a loss of $0.04 EPS. That flew past Bloomberg’s consensus of Wall Street estimates that expected $437.9 million in revenue and a $0.05 EPS loss.

Snap has managed to continue cutting losses as it edges toward profitability. Net loss improved to $227 million from $255 million last quarter, with the loss decreasing $98 million versus Q3 2018.

CEO Evan Spiegel made his case in his prepared remarks for why Snapchat’s share price should be higher: “We are a high-growth business, with strong operating leverage, a clear path to profitability, a distinct vision for the future and the ability to invest over the long term.”

Snapchat’s share price had closed down 4% at $14, and had fallen roughly 4.6% in after-hours trading as of 1:50 pm Pacific, to $13.35, despite the earnings beat. It remains below its $17 IPO price but has performed exceedingly well this year, rising from a low of $4.99 in December.

Snapchat DAU Q3 2019

That’s partially because of the high cost of Snapchat’s growth relative average revenue per user. While it notes that it saw user growth in all regions, 5 million of the 7 million new users came from the Rest of World, with just 1 million coming from the North America and Europe regions. That’s in part thanks to better than expected growth and retention on its re-engineered Android app that’s been a hit in India. But since Snapchat serves so much high-definition video content but it earns just $1.01 average revenue in the Rest of World, it has to hope it can keep growing ARPU so it becomes profitable globally.

Some other top-line stats from Snapchat’s earnings:

  • Operating cash flow improved by $56 million to a loss of $76 million in Q3 2019, compared to the prior year.
  • Free Cash Flow improved by $75 million to $84 million in Q3 2019, compared to the prior year.
  • Cash and marketable securities on hand reached $2.3 billion.

Snapchat ARPU Q3 2019

Interestingly, Spiegel noted that “We benefited from year-over-year growth in user activity in Q3 including growth in Snapchatters posting and viewing Stories.” Snapchat hadn’t indicated Stories was growing in at least the past two years, as it was attacked by clones, including Instagram Stories that led Snapchat to start shrinking in user count a year ago before it recovered.

Since Stories viewership is critical to total ad view on Snapchat, we may see analysts insisting to hear more about that metric in the future. Snap also said users opened the app 30 times per day, up from 25 times per day as of July 2018, showing it’s still highly sticky and being used for rapid-fire visual communication.

The other major piece of Snapchat’s ad properties is Discover, where total time spent watching grew 40% year-over-year. And rather than being driving by just a few hits, more than 100 Discover channels saw over 10 million viewers per month in Q3. With Instagram’s IGTV a flop, Discover remains Snapchat’s best differentiated revenue driver, and one it needs to keep investing in and promoting. With Instagram trying to compete more heavily on chat with its new close friends-only Threads app, Snapchat can’t rely on ephemeral messaging to keep it special.

3 TikTok Ad

TikTok buys ads on Snapchat that could steal its users

Surprisingly, Spiegel said that “We definitely see TikTok as a friend” when asked about why it allowed the competitor to continue buying ads on Snapchat. The two apps are different, with Snapchat focused on messaging and biographical social media while TikTok is about storyboarded, premeditated social entertainment. But this could be a dangerous friendship for Snapchat, as TikTok may be taking time away that users might spend watching Snapchat Discover, and its growth could box Snapchat out of the social entertainment space.

Looking forward, in Q4 Snap is estimating 214 to 215 million daily active users and $540 million to $560 million in revenue. It’s expecting between break even and positive $20 million for adjusted EBITDA. That revenue guidance was below estimates for the holiday Q4, contributing to the share price fall.

Snap has a ways to go before reaching profitability. That milestone would let it more freely invest in long-term projects, specifically its Spectacles camera-glasses. Spiegel has said he doesn’t expect augmented reality glasses to be a mainstream consumer product for 10 years. That means Snap will have to survive and spend for a long time if it wants a chance to battle Apple, Facebook, Magic Leap and more for that market.

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Verizon reports a big boost in wireless subscribers

Posted by | Earnings, Mobile, Verizon | No Comments

Verizon reported its second quarter earnings this morning, and while revenue fell short of analyst predictions, the company had strong profits and subscriber growth.

Verizon reported consolidated revenue of $32.1 billion in Q2, down 0.4% year-over-year and lower than analyst estimates of $32.4 billion. However, it also reported adjusted earnings per share of $1.23, compared to analyst predictions of $1.20 (which was Verizon’s EPS a year ago).

The company saw significant growth in wireless subscribers, with a total net addition of 451,000 subscribers, including 420,000 net adds on the smartphone side and 245,000 on the phone side (compared to a net addition of 199,000 phone subscribers in Q2 2018).

Meanwhile, the Fios internet business saw 34,000 net additions, with revenue growing 1.9% year-over-year.

Breaking it down by business unit, Verizon Consumer revenue was $22.0 billion (flat year-over-year), Verizon Business revenue came in at $7.8 billion (down 1.1%) and Verizon Media (which owns TechCrunch) saw revenue of $1.8 billion, down 2.9%.

The earnings release also points to the carrier’s rollout of 5G, with a statement from CEO Hans Vestberg: “Verizon made history this quarter by becoming the first carrier in the world to launch 5G mobility. We are focused on optimizing our next-generation networks and enhancing the customer experience while we head into the second half of the year with great momentum.”

In an interview with CNBC, Vestberg predicted that half of the United States will have functioning 5G by 2020.

As of 11:16 am Eastern, Verizon shares were up 1.14% since the start of trading.

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LG’s smartphone sales dropped another 21%

Posted by | 5g, Earnings, hardware, LG, Mobile, smartphones | No Comments

Let’s start with the good news. LG actually had a pretty good quarter (on the strength of appliance sales). The LG Home Appliance & Air Solution division made $5.23 billion for Q2. Anyone who’s been following the company for the past several years can guess where the bad news comes.

Smartphone sales dipped 21.3% year over year for the South Korean company. The culprits are as you’d expect: an overall slowing of the smartphone market, coupled with aggressive undercutting from Chinese manufacturers. Huawei seems to lead the pack on that front, with a big increase in sales, in spite of a confluence of external factors.

The smartphone unit saw an operating loss of $268.4 million, in spite of a 6.8% increase in sales from the quarter prior. LG chalks up the loss to higher marketing on new models and April’s move from Seoul to Vietnam for smartphone production for longer-term cost cutting.

In spite of this, the company says it’s still bullish about smartphone sales for Q3. “The introduction of competitive mass-tier smartphones and growing demand for 5G products are expected to contribute to improved performance in the third quarter,” it writes in an earnings release.

LG is, of course, among the first companies to release a 5G handset, with the V50 ThinQ. The next-gen wireless technology is expected to increase stagnating global smartphone sales, though much of that will depend on the speed with which carriers are able to roll it out. It seems unlikely that 5G in and of itself will be a quick or even longer-term fix for a struggling category.

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What Huawei didn’t say in its ‘robust’ half-year results

Posted by | 5g, Android, Asia, canalys, China, Earnings, huawei, Mobile, mobile phones, operating system, Ren Zhengfei, shenzhen, smartphone, smartphones, Trump administration | No Comments

The media has largely bought into Huawei’s “strong” half-year results today, but there’s a major catch in the report: the company’s quarter-by-quarter smartphone growth was zero.

The telecom equipment and smartphone giant announced on Tuesday that its revenue grew 23.2% to reach 401.3 billion yuan ($58.31 million) in the first half of 2019 despite all the trade restrictions the U.S. slapped on it. Huawei’s smartphone shipments recorded 118 million units in H1, up 24% year-over-year.

What about quarterly growth? Huawei didn’t say, but some quick math can uncover what it’s hiding. The company clocked a strong 39% in revenue growth in the first quarter, implying that its overall H1 momentum was dragged down by Q2 performance.

Huawei said its H1 revenue is up 23.2% year-on-year — but when you consider that Q1 revenue rose by 39%, Q2 must have been a real struggle…https://t.co/dFQo4gxEVbhttps://t.co/HABAQ6fmfK

— Jon Russell (@jonrussell) July 30, 2019

The firm shipped 59 million smartphones in the first quarter, which means the figure was also 59 million units in the second quarter. As tech journalist Alex Barredo pointed out in a tweet, Huawei’s Q2 smartphone shipments were historically stronger than Q1.

Huawei smartphones Q2 sales were traditionally much more stronger than on Q1 (32.5% more on average).

This year after Trump’s veto it is 0%. That’s quite the effect pic.twitter.com/x3dQlOePDA

— Alex B 📉 (@somospostpc) July 30, 2019

And although Huawei sold more handset units in China during Q2 (37.3 million) than Q1 (29.9 million) according to data from market research firm Canalys, the domestic increase was apparently not large enough to offset the decline in international markets. Indeed, Huawei’s founder and chief executive Ren Zhengfei himself predicted in June that the company’s overseas smartphone shipments would drop as much as 40%.

The causes are multi-layered, as the Chinese tech firm has been forced to extract a raft of core technologies developed by its American partners. Google stopped providing to Huawei certain portions of Android services, such as software updates, in compliance with U.S. trade rules. Chip designer ARM also severed business ties with Huawei. To mitigate the effect of trade bans, Huawei said it’s developing its own operating system (although it later claimed the OS is primarily for industrial use) and core chips, but these backup promises may take some time to materialize.

Consumer products are just one slice of the behemoth’s business. Huawei’s enterprise segment is under attack, too, as small-town U.S. carriers look to cut ties with Huawei. The Trump administration has also been lobbying its western allies to stop purchasing Huawei’s 5G networking equipment.

In other words, being on the U.S.’s entity list — a ban that prevents American companies from doing business with Huawei — is putting a real squeeze on the Chinese firm. Washington has given Huawei a reprieve that allows American entities to resume buying from and selling to Huawei, but the damage has been done. Ren said last month that all told, the U.S. ban would cost his company a staggering $30 billion loss in revenue.

Huawei chairman Liang Hua (pictured above) acknowledged the firm faces “difficulties ahead” but said the company is “fully confident in what the future holds,” he said today in a statement. “We will continue investing as planned – including a total of CNY120 billion in R&D this year. We’ll get through these challenges, and we’re confident that Huawei will enter a new stage of growth after the worst of this is behind us.”

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