Twitter cuts staff, kills off Vine app amid pressure to grow

NEW YORK (AP) — Twitter, seemingly unable to find a buyer and losing money, is cutting about 9 percent of its employees worldwide.

It is also killing off Vine, a mobile video app where people share short video clips that play in a loop. While beloved by users and a pioneer in its own right, Vine, which launched in 2013, never took off with the masses and has lost its luster as of late.

Twitter has failed to keep pace with rivals Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram and in recent months, rumors abounded that it would be acquired. In a conference call with analysts on Thursday, CEO Jack Dorsey quickly brushed aside what he called “recent market speculation.” He said the company is committed to growing long-term shareholder value, and that he doesn’t plan to comment “any further on this topic.”

Shares of Twitter, which have tumbled 27 percent in the past month as possible suitors have wandered away, rose 34 cents, or 2 percent, to $17.63 in afternoon trading on Thursday.

The San Francisco company said it expects to take $10 million to $20 million in charges as it lays off more than 300 of its 3,860 workers.

“We have a clear plan, and we’re making the necessary changes to ensure Twitter is positioned for long-term growth,” CEO Jack Dorsey said in a company release.

Since the end of 2014, Twitter has lured 15 million monthly users to expand its audience to 313 million people. In that same period, Facebook brought in 319 million users, expanding its reach 1.7 billion people.

Twitter’s service is used heavily by celebrities, journalists and politicians, giving it an outsized role in public discourse. But it has struggled to extend that appeal to a broader audience and has wrestled uncomfortably with bullying on its site and racist posts.

Twitter is placing a big bet on live video, and recently landed a high-profile deal to show National Football League games over 10 Thursdays. It wants to be the go-to place to share opinions in real time.

“But management appears unfocused and complacent, while the narrative has shifted to buyout rumors,” wrote Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter.

Pachter believes that Twitter remains too complicated for most users despite numerous attempts to change that.

On Thursday, Twitter said that average monthly active users climbed 3 percent to 317 million during its third quarter, while average daily active usage increased 7 percent.

Twitter Inc. posted a loss of $102.9 million, or 15 cents per share. Adjusted profit of 13 cents per share on revenue of $616 million. Analysts polled by Zacks Investment Research expected earnings of 9 cents per share on revenue of $605.7 million.

Advertising revenue rose 6 percent to $545 million, with mobile advertising making up 90 percent of the total ad revenue.

Twitter said that it was not giving revenue forecasts for the fourth quarter or full year due to restructuring in its sales department.

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