This article was published on February 13, 2017

Twitter is worth less than its Chinese clone. Again

Twitter is worth less than its Chinese clone. Again

Twitter is having a really rough time at the moment. Although over ten years old, it’s yet to make a profit. Investors are wary of dropping any further cash into the company, not least because of its plateauing subscriber numbers. Worse, it missed its fourth-quarter revenue estimates last week.

But things couldn’t be better for Weibo – the Chinese ersatz-version of Twitter. It continues to grow, and has a pretty well-figured out monetization strategy.

These two factors have combined to create a pretty interesting scenario. Weibo is now worth significantly more than Twitter, with a market capitalization of $11.3 billion compared to $11.1 billion. That’s a difference of about $200 million.

This is a rare, remarkable state of affairs. According to the Financial Times, this is the first time Weibo’s market capitalization has risen past Twitter on a close-of-day basis, although it did briefly happen during the trading day last October.

There’s no reason to think Weibo’s market cap won’t go any higher. For starters, there’s no competition from its older, more-experienced rival, as Twitter is banned in China. But moreover, as pointed out by The Financial Times, there’s a lot of room for growth when it comes to social advertising. Chinese sites tend to be more reluctant to aggressively use this monetization strategy compared to Western sites.

Meanwhile, there’s no end to Twitter’s ills. It still struggles to deal with its biggest issue – harassment. Worse, attempts to find a buyer have failed. Salesforce and Disney, previously thought to be the two most likely suitors, simply weren’t interested.

Although Twitter remains a significant player in the global social space, it’s hard to ignore the fact that it’s experiencing a period of decline. The question is, can it reverse this trend before it’s too late?

I’m not sure Twitter itself knows the answer to that question. It’s slowly pivoting into a content company, and has inked deals with the NFL, Bloomberg, and the Six Nations rugby tournament to stream premium video, including entire sports games.

It’s clear to see that Twitter is thrashing away, trying to find something that could inspire just a little bit of growth. And it’s also clear to see that this simply isn’t working.

Twitter needs to figure out a grand strategy that it can run with. Or, it could scale down, and simply enjoy the little money it can make as a decent microblogging platform.

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