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Pinterest overtakes Twitter – reports stellar results

Pinterest has cemented its place in the big league of social networks, as it reaches a landmark in active users and grows revenue by almost half.

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Pinterest, the image-sharing social network, has edged past Twitter in monthly active users (MAUs) for the first time. Its financial results for the third quarter of 2019, ending 30 September 2019, reveals it now has 322-million MAUs. 

The last time Twitter reported the number, in February, it had 321-million. It announced at the time that it would stop reporting MAUs, apparently because the number was consistently declining and gave an inaccurate picture of the health of the business. Twitter now reports monetisable Daily Active Users (mDAU), which refers to people who use the site or app directly and not through third-party apps, meaning they can be targeted with ads. Its Q3 results show a 145-million mDAU total, up 17% from the previous year.

South Africa has matched Pinterest’s global growth, with the latest SA Social Media Landscape 2020 study, shortly to be released by World Wide Worx and Ornico, revealing 3.7-million active users in this country.

“In Q3, we redesigned Pinterest to make the service more intuitive and improved recommendations quality to help people discover new ideas they didn’t know about before,” said Ben Silbermann, Pinterest CEO and Co-founder. “We are also expanding the number of shoppable products on Pinterest, which makes it easy for our users to go from inspiration to action.”

“In the third quarter, revenue grew 47% year over year and MAUs grew 28% to 322 million. We saw double-digit user growth in nearly all international countries,” said Todd Morgenfeld, Pinterest CFO. “We are thrilled to serve Pinterest ads in 28 markets currently, compared to seven at the end of 2018. Pinterest also realized adjusted EBITDA profitability in Q3.”

Q3 2019 Financial Highlights

The following table summarizes our consolidated financial results (in thousands, except percentages, unaudited):

20192018% Change
Revenue$279,703$190,19747
Net loss$(124,732)$(18,874)(561)
Non-GAAP net income (loss)*$5,96$(14,912)140
Adjusted EBITDA*$3,871$(13,426)129
Adjusted EBITDA margin*1%(7)%

* For more information on these non-GAAP financial measures, please see “―About non-GAAP financial measures” and the tables under “―Reconciliation of GAAP to non-GAAP financial results” included at the end of this release.

Q3 2019 Other Highlights

The following table sets forth our revenue, MAUs and average revenue per user (“ARPU”) based on the geographic location of our users (in millions, except ARPU and percentages, unaudited):

 Three Months Ended
September 30,
 20192018 % Change
Revenue – Global$280$190 47
Revenue – United States$251$18139 
Revenue – International$28$9212 
    
MAUs – Global322 25128 
MAUs – United States87 80 8
MAUs – International 235171 38
    
ARPU – Global$0.90$0.79 14
ARPU – United States$2.93$2.33 26
ARPU – International$0.13$0.06127

Full year 2019 outlook

  • Total revenue is expected to be between $1,100 million and $1,115 million, compared to our prior forecast of $1,095 million and $1,115 million.
  • Adjusted EBITDA is expected to be between $(30) million and $(10) million, compared to our prior forecast of $(50) million and $(25) million.*

* With respect to projected 2019 Adjusted EBITDA, we are unable to prepare a quantitative reconciliation without unreasonable efforts due to the high variability, complexity and low visibility with respect to certain items such as taxes and interest income that we are unable to quantify and that would be required to reconcile projected Adjusted EBITDA to net loss, the nearest GAAP equivalent. We expect the variability of these items to have a potentially unpredictable and potentially significant impact on future GAAP financial results, and, as such, we also believe that any reconciliations provided would imply a degree of precision that would be confusing or misleading to investors. For more information on this non-GAAP financial measure, please see “―About non-GAAP financial measures.”

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TikTok takes on COVID-19

The fastest growing social media platform in the world has also become an epicenter of public education about the coronavirus, attracting more than 30-billion views, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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The young have been getting a bad rap for wanting to party on while COVID-19 sends the world into lockdown. But a different movie is playing itself out on the social platform that is growing fastest among teenagers: TikTok.

Awareness campaigns by TikTok itself, collaboration with the International Red Cross, and spontaneous videos made by TikTok creators have combined into a barrage of information, education, awareness and social consciousness around the coronavirus.

Both globally and in South Africa, TikTok’s COVID-19 campaigns have gone viral.

The local #HayiCorona challenge, designed to remind people not to touch their face and wash hands regularly, has passed 1.5-million views. The TikTok collaboration with the International Red Cross, the #WashingHands challenge, has passed 12.6-million views.

One of the best-known participants in these challenges is the past year’s icon of South African talent, the Ndlovu Youth Choir, took up the global challenge with a 20-second hand-washing video. It put together a performance that brings tremendous energy to what can be a clichéd message, and ends with a punt for the Department of Health’s WhatsApp information service. The video can be viewed below.

@ndlovuyouthchoir

Our community has limited access to running water. Follow these instructions on how to safely wash your hands using a bucket. ##coronavirus##washinghands

♬ original sound – ndlovuyouthchoir

“On a global scale, TikTok also partnered with the World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure that, while creators are still having fun and expressing themselves on the platform, they stay informed with COVID-19 information coming from a reliable source,” a TikTok spokesperson told us. “Through the partnership, the WHO has created an informational page on TikTok that offers information to curb the spread of the coronavirus as well as dispelling myths.”

The page can be viewed at https://vm.tiktok.com/GHTEGf

TikTok has hosted a number of livestreams with WHO experts, attracting users from more than 70 countries, tuning in for live question and answer sessions. It has also introduced labels on coronavirus-related videos, to point users to trusted information. Resources are also offered directly in the app and in a dedicated COVID-19 section of TikTok’s Safety Center, at https://www.tiktok.com/safety/resources/covid-19.

If users simply want to explore videos on the topic, they can search via the #coronavirus hashtag, or click on https://vm.tiktok.com/swKbn4. The hashtag has had an astonishing 33.8-billion views, indicating the scale of activity and interest around the topic on the platform.

Read more on the next page about how South Africans have embraced the campaign.

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On World Backup Day: backup, backup, backup

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It was World Backup Day yesterday, 31 March, at a time when business continuity is threatened as never before. That makes calls for protecting email and defending against ransomware all the more urgent.

The global coronavirus pandemic has brought into stark relief many organisations’ lack of business continuity plans and policies. With more than two billion people around the globe in forced lockdown in wide-ranging government efforts to stem the tide of infections, an unprecedented number of employees are working remotely.

This interruption to the normal way of work is precisely what an effective and resilient business continuity strategy should plan for, says Heino Gevers, cybersecurity specialist at Mimecast

“Companies need uninterrupted access to critical business applications during times of disruption, including safe and secure web and email access for workers that are now operating outside the normal perimeters of the organisation,” he says. “In addition, comprehensive backup and archiving solutions should be ready to restore access to critical business applications should there be any unplanned downtime to ensure continuity until the crisis passes.”

According to Gevers, the current global crisis is likely to push business continuity up the list of priorities for many organisations that have been disrupted by the effects of the coronavirus.

“Organisations are facing new challenges to their productivity; for example in terms of technical support. If a remote user is infected with malware or ransomware, how does the IT team restore that device or do any remediation without being able to physically access it?”

Gevers advises that organisations implement tools that enhances the data protection capabilities of commonly-used tools such as Office365 and can leverage archived data to provide quick recovery of email data in the event of accidental loss, malicious attacks or technical failure. 

“As adoption of cloud-based business applications grow in the wake of forced lockdowns around the globe, companies need to ensure they have the tools to recover in any situation,” he says. “This includes a data management strategy that combines archiving, backup and data protection capabilities to allow for quick restoration of critical systems and applications in the event of disruption.”

Jasmit Sagoo, head of technology at Veritas for the United Kingdom and Ireland, warns that this is a golden age for cybercriminals looking for ransomware opportunities.

“As the global cost of ransomware continues to grow, this World Backup Day, Veritas is saying: ‘don’t pay up, back up!’,” he says. “Ransomware is said to generate an estimated annual revenue of $1 billion a year, and companies who are not consistent in backing up their data are allowing criminals to line their pockets.

“Ransomware attacks exist only because some businesses can’t survive unless the hackers give them back their data.  So, the key to survival is removing that reliance and being able to regain access to data, without engaging with the cybercriminals.  The best way to do that is with a sound backup strategy.

“Sagoo advises organisations to create isolated, offline backup copies of their data to keep it out of reach of any attackers.  They then need to proactively monitor and restrict backup credentials, while running backups frequently to shrink the risk of potential data loss. Businesses should also test and retest their ransomware defences regularly.

“Ransomware strikes without warning and it doesn’t discriminate between its targets – it can happen to any organisation, large or small. Despite their best efforts, most companies will fall to at least one attack. What distinguishes one victim from another is the ability to bounce back, which ultimately depends on its backup strategy.

“When ransomware hits, organisations that aren’t prepared often feel helpless to do anything other than to submit to their attacker’s demands.   That’s why we’re urging all businesses to use World Backup Day as a catalyst to get ahead of the situation and get their data protected.”

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