Is this Twitter’s Nadella moment?
Another technology founder in Silicon Valley is leaving the stage, Mark Zuckerberg of Meta is one of the few left, with Jack Dorsey stepping down as CEO after presumed a lot of pressure from shareholders such as the activist hedge fund Elliott Management. His successor is the CTO Parag Agrawal and Dorsey will stay on the board for 2022. The main question is whether this is Twitter’s Nadella moment (Nadella is the current CEO of Microsoft and took over in 2014) meaning whether the new CEO with less strings attached and not being a founder can drastically change the growth and product profile of the company.
Too much fat
Our main issue with Twitter has always been the lack of consistency in operating margins. Given how consistent Google and Facebook are running their business it has always been a mystery why Twitter has not been more consistent in its operating performance. The company’s operating margin has come down for three straight quarters despite a healthy backdrop for online advertising spending in terms of demand and pricing. Free cash flow generation has been very disappointing over the past year and ultimately that has been driving the share price lower. Twitter has to fundamentally improve the EBITDA margin from its current 18.5% to somewhere closer to 35%; it will be a stretch to demand Facebook-like margin of 50%. If Twitter’s new CEO can deliver that then shareholders are in for some great returns. But more importantly there are no excuses for not delivering high revenue growth while improving the operating margin when you are generating $5bn in annual revenue. Facebook and many other technology companies have been able to grow revenue and operating margin at the same time. Twitter must do the same.