Fidelity, which was among the group of outside investors that helped Elon Musk finance his $44 billion takeover of Twitter, has slashed the value of its stake in Twitter by 56%. The recalculation comes as Twitter navigates a number of challenges, most the result of chaotic management decisions — including an exodus of advertisers from the network.
Fidelity’s Blue Chip Growth Fund stake in Twitter was valued at around $8.63 million as of November, according to a monthly disclosure and Fidelity Contrafund notice first reported today by Axios. That’s down from $19.66 million as of the end of October.
Macroeconomic trends are likely to blame in part. Stripe took a 28% internal valuation cut in July, while Instacart this week reportedly suffered a 75% cut to its valuation.
But Twitter’s wishy-washy policies post-Musk clearly haven’t helped matters.
The network’s become less stable at a technical level as of late, on Wednesday suffering outages after Musk made “significant” backend server architecture changes. Twitter recently laid off employees in its public policy and engineering department, dissolving the group responsible for weighing in on content moderation and human rights-related issues such as suicide prevention. And the company’s raised the ire of regulators after banning — and then quickly reinstating — accounts belonging to prominent journalists.
Then again — as Axios business editor Dan Primack pointed out, appropriately in a tweet — Fidelity seems to rely heavily on public market performance where it concerns valuations. It’s quite possible that the firm doesn’t have any inside info on Twitter’s financial performance.
Cutbacks at Twitter abound as the company approaches $1 billion in interest payments due on $13 billion in debt, all while revenue dips. A November report from Media Matters for America estimated that half of Twitter’s top 100 advertisers, which spent almost $750 million on Twitter ads this year combined, appear to no longer be advertising on the website. Twitter’s heavily pushing its Twitter Blue plan, aiming to make it a larger profit driver. But third-party tracking data suggest it’s been slow to take off.
Some Twitter employees are bringing their own toilet paper to work after the company cut back on janitorial services, the New York Times recently reported, and Twitter has stopped paying rent for several of its offices including its San Francisco headquarters.
Musk has attempted to save around $500 million in costs unrelated to labor, according to the aforementioned Times report, over the past few weeks shutting down a data center and launching a fire sale after putting office items up for auction in a bid to recoup costs.
Separately, Musk’s team has reached out to investors for potential fresh investment for Twitter at the same price as the original $44 billion acquisition, according to The Wall Street Journal.
A poll put up by Musk asking if he should step down as head of the company closed December 19 with users voting resoundingly in favor of him leaving. Musk responded several days afterward, saying he’d resign as CEO “as soon as [he found] someone foolish enough to take the job” and after that “just run the software and servers teams.”