Ars Technica's 2017 corporate death watch is up, and seeing as how four of the six companies it said wouldn't make it through 2016 are in various stages of the corporate undead right now, it's interesting to see that Ars writer Sam Machkovech believes the biggest impending tech implosion in 2017 will be Twitter, for several reasons:
Twitter isn't going to vaporize by the end of 2017. But rest assured, Twitter as we know it will not last through the year. And we're not talking about some sort of visual overhaul or slight feature tweak like the ones we’ve come to expect from major rivals like Facebook every year or so.
Twitter's continual bleeding of cash will have to come to an end, one way or another. While the company is losing less money than it has in the past ($289 million based on generally accepted accounting practices in the first nine months of 2016, compared to $430 million during the same period last year), Twitter is still hemorrhaging investors' money. And Twitter management's 2016 courtship of a few big potential buyers (including Disney) didn’t just fail—it crashed and burned.
Critics have railed against the platform for its inability to handle harassment and abuse. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has made a lot of public statements about this issue dating back over a year, but real change simply hasn’t come to the platform. As far back as this March’s SXSW Interactive expo, analysts pointed to sensible changes that could transform the platform’s core social-media experience, specifically in terms of curating and filtering personal feeds. Twitter hasn’t come close to implementing any of them.
By the time the company rolled out a “mute specific words” feature, it was too little, too late. The site's “egg” accounts and Pepe frogs have taken over, employing the same tactics used in 4chan-spawned movements to bombard and harass average users through a veil of anonymity and amplified hate speech. The platform’s most talked-about user, President-elect Donald Trump, has relied on the platform to spread misinformation and point his most harassing and abusive followers at specific people he dislikes.
Who the heck wants to buy that kind of site?
Young users are flocking to Snapchat in droves, which has aggressively bolstered its base experience with more insulated friend-list tools and a clever, video-driven news feed service. Ten seconds of video is the new 140 characters of text—yes, that’s 10 seconds, not 6. Twitter was built for an SMS world, and between the closure of Twitter-owned Vine and the inability of Twitter-owned Periscope to combat Snapchat’s growth, the company doesn’t seem poised to leave SMS behind in a successful way. Meanwhile, Twitter's acquisitions and NFL-related deals have bled more cash than they’ve earned.
It's likely that Twitter will be forced to sell itself at a huge discount (or sell off bits of its intellectual property) just to keep the site afloat through the end of 2017—or until its user base is folded into something else, though what that would be is much harder to predict. Also, expect Twitter to do something drastic as a last gasp to raise its public profile before such a sale closes. (If there’s a way to place a Vegas wager on Twitter deleting the @realDonaldTrump account at some point, put me down for $10.)
I have to agree. We'll add this to the list of Future Stupidity picks and revisit in 2018, but Twitter as it is right now is 100% unsustainable. Besides, the Pepes are heading to their own little alt-racist sandbox hell social media platform called Gab to do serious bidness, and like the article says, the kids are all over Snapchat and Instagram these days.
Of course, the counter-argument to this is "Trump uses it so it will remain popular as long as he does" so hey, who knows, right?