Social

Tim Bradshaw

Snapchat’s best feature is not disappearing messages: it’s simplicity. Sending a picture message to a friend takes just five taps of a smartphone screen, including one to open the app. This immediacy is a big part of what makes the pictures feel more personal and fun than more traditional messaging apps.

Now, in the biggest changes the young start-up has yet made to its app, Snapchat is adding text messaging and video chat to the ephemeral photos that made it famous. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Twitter’s stock was heading towards a new all-time low after reporting results that beat forecasts on the financials but left Wall Street wanting more from user growth and engagement. Hannah Kuchler and Tim Bradshaw bring you live reaction and updates from the analyst call.  

Robert Cookson

Big media companies owned by profit-hungry private equity groups don’t normally give their core products away for free.

But Getty Images, which was acquired for $3.3bn by Carlyle in 2012, is doing just that. The world’s largest supplier of stock photos has made more than 30m images available to people to share for free on their blogs and social media sites, including tumblr, WordPress and Twitter.

This is not charity, however. Behind the move lies cold commercial logic. It’s all about data, control and advertising. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

The co-founder of fitness tracking device maker Jawbone wants to take on Twitter with the long-awaited launch of a new “global opinion network”, State.

State, which emerges from private testing on Thursday, has been many years in the making. Alex Asseily, who is still Jawbone’s chairman, and his brother Mark have been developing State since 2011, soon after Alex returned to London following 17 years in San Francisco. They had originally hoped to launch it in 2012 but the delay partly reflects the daunting scale of Mr Asseily’s vision. Read more

Hannah Kuchler

The one big US social network not blocked in China launches its new site there in beta today – as part of a Chinese push previously reported by the Financial TimesRead more

Sirgoo Lee, chief executive of the South Korean mobile messaging company Kakao, chuckles when asked about Facebook’s acquisition of rival WhatsApp for $19bn. “All I can say is that’s a lot of money,” he says.

While it has a strong presence in India and Hong Kong, WhatsApp is a marginal player in many parts of Asia writes Simon Mundy. Kakao, Japan-based LINE and China-headquartered WeChat dominate mobile messaging in their respective home territories, and are fighting for control of the market in southeast Asia. The Japanese internet company Rakuten, meanwhile, last month spent $900m on Viber, an Israeli company that provides similar free calling and messaging services. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Expectations were running high ahead of Twitter’s maiden earnings as a public company – its stock had risen by almost 50 per cent since November’s IPO.
But investors got the jitters when they saw slowing growth in user numbers and engagement rates in the fourth quarter of 2013, feeding their fears that Twitter might be a niche product which the mass market will never understand. Dick Costolo, chief executive, stressed this was a problem they had always known about and had a plan to fix. Nonetheless, shareholders were not comforted, sending Twitter shares down almost 18 per cent in after-hours trading.
In this liveblog, Hannah Kuchler and Tim Bradshaw covered reaction and live commentary from the conference call.  

This just in from Facebook – it’s entered the news business, with an app called Paper. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Mark Zuckerberg’s push to make Facebook a mobile-first company seems to have paid off. Wednesday’s fourth-quarter earnings revealed that it now makes more than half of its advertising revenues from mobile devices, beating Wall Street’s forecasts and sending its stock up as much as 12 per cent in after-hours trading.
Hannah Kuchler and Tim Bradshaw reported from the earnings call as Zuck and his team talked about the opportunities in personalisation, messaging and artificial intelligence. 

Twitter began life as a public company today as it started trading on the New York Stock Exchange in the most closely watched initial public offering of the year.

The San Francisco-based company priced its shares on Wednesday at $26 a piece. It will raise about $2.1bn by selling 80.5m shares, or about 13 per cent of the company.

The shares closed up 73 per cent at $44.90.