Time is not on the side of struggling social media company Twitter (TWTR)
The San Francisco-based company is planning to lay off about 8% of its workforce, or about 300 people, Bloomberg reported Monday. Twitter cut about the same percentage of workers in 2015 when co-founder Jack Dorsey returned as chief executive.
The restructuring talks have emerged ahead of third-quarter results in the backdrop of failed sale discussions for Twitter.
Twitter, which has long been viewed as an acquisition candidate, became the subject of M&A rumors earlier this month when Salesforce.com (CRM) surfaced as an interested buyer, as did Walt Disney (DIS) and Alphabet (GOOGL) . But all those companies ultimately ruled out making a bid for Twitter, which continues to struggle with its turnaround efforts.
Twitter's cost structure was originally designed to support a larger user base, but user growth has stagnated and the company needs to reduce costs, wrote SunTrust Robinson Humphrey analyst Robert Peck in a Tuesday note.
"We believe Twitter could reduce costs while preserving R&D innovation and investments. We estimate that the company could cut >10% of employee expenses, aligning it more with other Internet companies, saving ~$100M per year."
According to Peck, Facebook currently has 9 times the revenue and 8 times the number of daily average users (DAUs), but only three times the number of employees.
Looked at another way, Facebook produces about $1.87 million in revenue per employee based on its current headcount of 14,495 and a 2016 revenue consensus of $27.15 billion. By comparison, Twitter had just $654,000 in revenue per employee based on a December 2015 headcount of 3,900 and a 2016 revenue consensus of $2.55 billion.
Over the years, the former Silicon Valley darling has continuously struggled with both monetizing and growing its user base. Revenue growth has been decelerating especially as its business faces uncertainty overseas and the market remains cautious on whether Twitter's brand is losing ground compared to rivals Facebook and Google+.
In addition to these overarching concerns, Twitter has been grappling with an exodus of its top executives.
"The bottom line is you can't cut your way to growth," said Monness, Crespi, Hardt & Co. analyst James Cakmak in an interview. "Twitter is still an important asset to the world. However, at the same time, timing is not on their side in terms of monetization."
Twitter also needs a full-time CEO, Cakmak explained while noting that it probably makes sense for the company to operate within a larger organization (Dorsey splits his time between running Twitter and payments firm Square (SQ) ).
"The question is how reasonable will the board be in terms of valuations" from prospective buyers, Cakmak added.
Value certainly seems to be among the main questions for would-be acquirers of Twitter.
"Nobody can really understand what the value of Twitter could be to them," Tigress Financial Partners chief information officer Ivan Feinseth said in an interview. "Seemingly, a lot of people looked and either they saw something they don't like or they saw no way to create value."
Twitter's lack of progress is nothing new, however.
The social media company rescheduled reporting its third-quarter results to 4 a.m. PT on Thursday from its more typical time after the markets close, citing the fact that other tech companies, including Alphabet and Amazon, are reporting their results after the close . While the 3Q numbers are widely expected to be weak, the fourth quarter will be a "make or break" quarter, SunTrust's Peck wrote.
"If current trends continue, we think M&A is inevitable, albeit potentially at lower prices and not until 2017," he said.
Shares of Twitter were trading down nearly 4% Tuesday afternoon to $17.37. Twitter is down about 25% year-to-date.