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Rigorous Fearless Independent

Facebook grew revenues by 11% in Q2. This rate is higher than investors expected, but still driven to record lows by the pandemic slowdown. It forecasts 10% growth in Q3.

The company is under very public pressure over its moderation of hateful content, with upwards of 1,000 advertisers joining a month-long boycott, while other online platforms institute tougher policies on hate.

Facebook’s world-beating ad product and 9 million-strong bench of active advertisers means an organised boycott can’t hope to dent its growth. A coalition of advertisers, users, staff and regulators could make it take notice.

 

Joseph said that there are “legitimate questions” to be asked about Dorsey’s role, “when you get specific failings around security or the product pipeline. Big tech has always promoted the idea of culture flowing from one or two people at the top. The idea of boy-genius messiahs helped them raise money on the way up, and I think there has to be accountability on the way down.”

He added “Twitter needs to focus on the basics. Make sure the platform is secure and the product works. Build compelling ad products for direct response advertisers, with targeting and attribution that works. Try not to get anyone murdered by someone radicalised by tweets. They don’t need that PR.”

Vodafone’s performance this quarter was hit both by COVID and an underlying deterioration in its operational momentum—disappointing given regulatory easing and easier comparables.

Vodafone’s guidance has been more prudent than most going into this pandemic and these results support that cautious stance. Whether it’s a case of Vodafone underperforming or the sector being less resilient than expected will emerge over the coming weeks.

The IPO of Vodafone’s towers business is imperative to maintaining its leverage targets and dividend. It will need to sell a chunky slice of equity and realise a hefty multiple in challenging market conditions.  The profile of the asset for sale will help but it all remains very finely balanced.

Joseph said "Apple was the place people listened to podcasts, until just a couple of years ago. But they were asleep at the wheel, and didn't do anything to grow the market, give podcasters the tools they wanted ... or defend their position at the top of the pile. Probably podcasts were just too small to worry about for a company making a quarter of a trillion dollars a year. But that carelessness has allowed Spotify to challenge Apple for the top spot."

He added "Right now, most podcasts don't make any money from advertising, because they aren't big enough to sell ads directly to an agency. But Spotify could aggregate podcasts and sell to advertisers based on who's listening, rather than what they're listening to, and make podcast advertising work more like ads on the web."

Even with lockdown tailwinds, there are dampeners for the SVOD boom. The 27 May US launch of direct-to-consumer video service HBO Max did not save its parent company Home Box Office from a 5% year-on-year decrease in revenues in Q2 2020

Mid-term problems include confusing brand positioning for the service and uncertainty surrounding platform carriage—it remains unavailable via Roku or Amazon Fire TV products. Reported viewing trends seem positive but little original programming has cut through yet, while the production shutdown will affect nascent services more than those with established identities

This content push is costly and HBO's profitability may soon be gone. Quarterly operating income shrank 80% to $113 million thanks to a 33% jump in content costs due to the Max expansion