ARTS + ENTERTAINMENT

Elon Musk says Twitter’s ad revenue is down 50% and cash flow is negative

Jul 16, 2023, 8:00 AM

New York (CNN) — Elon Musk disclosed on Twitter Saturday that, due to a 50% drop in advertising revenue and a “heavy debt load,” the platform still has a negative cash flow.

The billionaire owner tweeted Saturday, in response to business advice from a follower, “Need to reach positive cash flow before we have the luxury of anything else.”

The tweet is in stark contrast to his tone in April, when Musk told the BBC the platform is now “roughly breaking even” and that most of its advertisers have returned.

Ad revenue has been a contentious issue and an uphill battle for the site, after hordes of advertisers fled after Musk took over. Advertisers were concerned about content moderation, mass layoffs and general uncertainty about Twitter’s future.

Linda Yaccarino, a former NBCUniversal marketing executive, recently took over the CEO position from Musk – he’s likely betting on her advertising experience to bring them back.

The New York Times reported that Twitter’s US advertising revenue from the five weeks from April 1 to the first week of May was down 59% year-over-year, citing an internal presentation. (CNN has not viewed the presentation.)

Just 43% of Twitter’s top 1,000 advertisers as of September, the month before Musk’s takeover, were still advertising on the platform as of April, according to data provided to CNN by market intelligence firm Sensor Tower last month.

“It’s definitely been extremely difficult,” Musk said in Twitter Spaces livestream event Musk hosted with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr last month. “Basically, our revenue is cut in half because we didn’t toe the line.” He added it’s been a “huge struggle for Twitter to break even.”

And, after its rival app, Meta’s Threads, surpassed 100 million downloads less than a week after it launched, Twitter is under increased pressure.

Musk has added a variety of cost-cutting or cash-seeking measures to the site, from giving blue checkmarks with a Twitter Blue membership to putting Tweetdeck behind a paywall.

On Thursday, Twitter announced content creators would be able to get a slice of the site’s ad revenue, seemingly to encourage more creators to join the site. To be eligible, the creators must have Twitter Blue and have at least 5 million impressions on their posts in each of the last three months.

Among the creators who now get monetized off Twitter: Andrew Tate, the self-proclaimed “misogynist” online influencer, who was indicted in Romania on charges of human trafficking, rape and setting up a criminal gang.

CNN did not receive comment from Twitter.

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Elon Musk says Twitter’s ad revenue is down 50% and cash flow is negative