Twitter, the social media service that gave us a Trump presidency and a potent weapon of the New Cold War, has announced that it turned a net profit for the first time in the company's history. Twitter's stock rose in pre-market trading.
But while profits are up, the total number of Twitter users is flat. The main reason? Twitter conducted a mass purge of fake accounts, to say nothing of the way it started to expel the Nazis who had called the site home for so long.
"Q4 was a strong finish to the year," Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, said in a statement. "We returned to revenue growth, achieved our goal of GAAP profitability, increased our shipping cadence, and reached five consecutive quarters of double digit DAU growth."
"I'm proud of the steady progress we made in 2017, and confident in our path ahead," he added.
What does all of that mean? It means that Twitter, which has been haemorrhaging money forever, finally turned a profit last quarter, much to the shock of sceptics. The only question now is whether it can pull off that kind of magic trick again.
Twitter reported that it has 330 million users, which is roughly the same as the quarter before. Previously, user growth has climbed, so any user number that plateaus leaves investors nervous about the future of the company. But this past quarter was spent cleaning house, purging fake accounts, and suspending the most vicious hate-peddlers on the site.
People like white supremacist Richard Spencer and conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich remain active on the site, but many toxic voices have been silenced, including people like Baked Alaska, a neo-Nazi who attended the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last year that left one woman dead. The story of Baked Alaska, whose real name is Tim Gionet, showed just how dangerous fringe online communities can become when they push their hate into the real world, as we saw in Charlottesville.
Executives from Twitter, no doubt excited that they achieved profitability for the first time ever, are optimistic about the future.
"We're pleased with our performance in 2017 and our return to revenue growth in the fourth quarter," Ned Segal, Twitter's CFO said in a press release.
"Total revenue in the fourth quarter increased 2% year-over-year, and owned-and-operated advertising revenue increased 7% year-over-year, driven by continued strong engagement growth, improvements in our revenue products, improved return for advertisers, and better sales execution."
Twitter as a service still has a long ways to go if it wants to make serious money for its investors, but this past quarter may just prove that it's on the right track.