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Last week, when Twitter announced its results for the final quarter of 2021, all eyes were on the American social media giant. This, after all, was Twitter’s first quarterly results since its founder Jack Dorsey stepped down as CEO in December.

While the results failed to meet analyst expectations, there was plenty to be hopeful about for Dorsey’s replacement, Indian-born Parag Agrawal. The company added six million monetisable daily active users (mDAU)—basically, users who see ads—over the course of the quarter. This took its total mDAU base to 217 million users. Overall revenue for the quarter touched $1.57 billion—a tidy 22% increase from the same period a year prior.

These numbers, however, are a far cry from the milestones set for the company last year by Dorsey—315 million mDAUs and $7.5 billion in annual revenue by the end of 2023. And while the company remains confident of still achieving these targets, it seems to have hit a ceiling in the US, its most valuable market. The US market generated about $885 million—or 56%—of Twitter’s overall revenue in the most recent quarter. However, Twitter has only 38 million US users, adding just one million over the past three quarters.

If Twitter is to get anywhere near the goalposts set by Dorsey, it will have to do so on the back of international markets, with Agarwal’s home country of India perhaps the most important among these.

However, despite Twitter’s popularity in India, revenues from the country are practically a rounding error in the larger scheme of things. In 2019, according to sources close to the company, Twitter’s annual India revenues stood at $17 million. In 2021, say the same sources, annual revenues remained less than $20 million. This needs to start increasing at a rate of knots over the next two years if Twitter is to meet its lofty revenue goals, says an executive close to Twitter.

Growing the Indian market, however, is easier said than done. A former Twitter executive says India was considered a “deprioritised market” under Dorsey’s leadership. Little wonder then that Twitter has been without an India head since Manish Maheshwari was transferred to the company’s US headquarters in August 2021. Maheshwari has since left the company altogether and founded Invact Metaversity, a 3D virtual learning startup.

In the absence of an Indian head, Twitter has tasked its JAPAC (Japan and Asia Pacific) leadership with figuring out the Indian market. The Ken has learnt that Yu Sasamoto—Twitter’s JAPAC head—and top Twitter executives are working on a new strategy and sales target for India.

Part of this strategy will be to make inroads into the Indian hinterland, which accounts for the bulk of new Indian internet users. This is something the company has struggled to do thus far, with its efforts going back as far as 2015 when it acquired ‘missed call’ marketing startup ZipDial ZipDial Forbes Twitter Acquires India-Based 'Missed Call' Startup ZipDial Read more .

AUTHOR

Pratap Vikram Singh

Pratap is based out of Delhi and covers policy and myriad intersections with the other sectors, most notably technology. He has worked with Governance Now for seven years, reporting on technology, telecom policy, and the social sector.

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