Someone very close to Twitter recently told me that if it wasn’t for all the rumors around an acquisition, the company’s stock would likely be in the low single digits.
Times spokespeople dismissed the report, but a few days later the company announced the dismissal of 70 employees in its Paris editing and production facility alone. In May, the company announced a new round of buyouts, a move largely seen as a precursor to at least 200 newsroom layoffs early next year, according to three Times staffers. “Every time this happens,” one former editor told me, “it’s a dark cloud that hangs over the newsroom for months.” Prior to the buyout announcement, Baquet put out a memo explaining that the newsroom “will have to change significantly—swiftly and fearlessly.” When I asked him about the “at least 200” figure, he said, “I’ve said there will be cuts, but I don’t know what the right size is at this point.”
I have been told by people close to the company that, in the face of mounting pressure from Wall Street, Twitter occasionally resorted to what most start-ups do when they need to goose the numbers: they kind of faked it. This happens at virtually all social networks; the company sends an e-mail to inactive users who haven’t been on the service in a few months, informing them there is a problem with their username or account, which leads people to log in to fix the situation. Magically, those people become monthly active users even if they were not.