I have been scratching my head all week about what’s going on at Twitter, and I’m worried. I’m not concerned that it posted a $175 million quarterly loss or that company executives issued lower-than-expected guidance for next quarter. What worries me is the confusing story it is telling.
Twitter CEO Dick Costolo and CFO Anthony Noto keep telling investors and the public that the company wants to “build the largest daily audience in the world.” But it’s become evident in recent months that in laying out that goal, Twitter isn’t just thinking about the community of 284 million people who like Twitter enough to log in every month—but also the “logged-out” users who hit the site when a Tweet comes up in a search or they visit someone’s timeline. “Logged-out” users include those who never sign up as well as registered users who don’t log in, or aren't automatically logged in, monthly. I’ll get into some numbers later, but at a high level, the new emphasis just doesn’t smell right.