Singer was referring to anonymous social app Secret shutting down. The company raised $35 million in three rounds from 26 investors, including big names like Kleiner Perkins, Google Ventures and SV Angel. The fact that the company is shuttering, rather than say selling to an Internet giant, does not bode well for start-ups without a clear revenue model.
The social giant that seems immune from growth concerns is Facebook. Why? Its user base is simply massive—1.44 billion people use its core product every month, 936 million every day. And the user numbers of its portfolio of apps continue to grow dramatically—WhatsApp has 700 million monthly active users, Messenger has 600 million monthly active users and Instagram has more than 300 million. Plus, Facebook's been able to grow ad revenue thanks to new ad measurement and products like video ads, which are growing engagement and ad dollars.
But even Facebook, which reported that its results were impacted negatively by foreign exchange rates, has seen its shares sink about 5 percent since it reported results about a week and a half ago.
Excepting Facebook, which many say is stealing the heat—and ad dollars—from some of the other companies, one challenge we're hearing a lot about this week is the challenge of accelerating advertising growth.
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For LinkedIn, advertising is just one of three parts of its business—and comprises just 40 percent of its revenue. The business network grew ad revenue 38 percent to $119 million in the first quarter, but the company warned about weak ad sales in Europe and spoke about headwinds for traditional display ads. The problem: As advertisers shift toward "programmatic," or automated ad buying, they see less potential upside. "Going forward, display will remain an important component of our product suite, albeit with lessening impact on the business," Chief Financial Officer Steve Sordello said on the company's earnings call.
Twitter talked about challenges in getting marketers on board for some new ad formats designed to get viewers to buy an app or a product. "It's still early days for these products," CEO Dick Costolo said in the company's earnings release. "We have a strong pipeline that we believe will drive increased value for direct response advertisers in the future."
And Yelp reported decelerating ad sales growth in the first quarter. While ad revenue grew 51 percent over the year-earlier quarter, it declined from the prior quarter as a result of a restructuring of its sales force. "Brand advertising was $6.6 million, down 11 percent year over year. We have experienced industry headwinds related to the shift to programmatic advertising and the industry's desire to have advertising products that are disruptive to the consumer experience," CEO Jeremy Stoppelman said in the company's earnings call. "Given our focus on the consumer, we don't generally support those types of ad products."
Despite the common thread of advertising challenges, analysts point out that LinkedIn, Yelp and Twitter are each quite different; each has its own strengths, and issues.
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