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Twitter purists mourn end of 140-character limit on posts
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Nov 8, 2017

China's Tencent takes 12% stake in Snapchat parent
New York (AFP) Nov 8, 2017 - Snapchat parent Snap Inc. disclosed Wednesday that Chinese tech giant Tencent had taken a 12 percent stake, a sign of confidence in the social network that has delivered disappointing results since its share offering this year.

A securities filing showed Tencent Holdings had purchased some 146 million shares of Snap non-voting stock in open market purchases in November.

Those shares would be worth some $220 million at Snap's current value, or 12 percent of the equity.

Brian Wieser at Pivotal Research said the Tencent investment should not impact Snap's valuation even if it conveys some confidence in the US firm.

"It seems highly unlikely that Tencent would ever be in a position to buy the whole company," he said in a note to clients.

"It seems equally unlikely that Snap would ever be allowed to establish a foothold in China even if their relationship with Tencent were deeper."

Snap, whose social network and disappearing messages has made it a hit with young smartphone users, has seen its share price slump amid disappointing results including another quarterly update Tuesday showing its losses tripled to $443 million.

Snap shares skidded 14.6 percent to close at $12.91, as the news on Tencent did little to stem the decline.

Snap reported the number of daily Snapchat users rose to 178 million in the past quarter, a weaker-than-expected 17 percent increase from a year ago.

Although Snapchat is best known for its smartphone messaging, it has also developed partnerships with numerous media outlets eager to reach its audience with news, video and other content.

Snap executives said they overestimated demand for its Spectacles sunglasses with built-in cameras, losing just shy of $40 million that it will mark down on its books.

- 'We haven't seen inflection' -

Mark Mahaney at RBC Capital Markets downgraded Snap following the earnings, saying growth has been disappointing.

"We still haven't seen an inflection in (user) growth despite substantial product innovation," Mahaney said in a note to clients. "Advertisers go where the eyes are and we need to see further user growth."

Tencent is one of China's largest tech firms, known for its WeChat social network and investments in media, gaming, online content and other segments.

Tencent shares have rocketed 70 percent this year on expectations of continued success in its core games business, which includes the wildly popular "Honour of Kings" and other hits, and on hopes that it will realize the advertising potential of the widely used WeChat.

It was a sad day for Twitter purists, dismayed that the 140-character limit restricting users on the social media platform to crisp, succinct posts had been doubled to a gaudy 280.

And they have been expressing their outrage -- how else? -- with short tweets and hashtags like #140forlife.

"Personally, I enjoyed the challenge of fitting my thoughts into 140 characters!" tweeted Weather Channel meteorologist Maria LaRosa, with the hashtag #lessismore.

"Like some baby boomers still rocking the flip phone, I'll still be rocking #140characters," added Fox News journalist Jim MacKay.

Roger Cox, who handles community relations for the police department in Bellevue, Nebraska, struggled to reach the new limit in a tweet filled with emoticons.

"I don't know what to do with all this extra room. #280characters on @Twitter room to throw a @Twitter party. Wow, still not close to filling this space. The days of #140characters are over. It's #TacoTuesday, did you have tacos today? Still room left."

Twitter rattled the twitterverse on Tuesday when it announced that it was doubling the limit for tweets to 280 characters, in a bid to draw more users and boost engagement.

It is the first time the character cap has been raised since Twitter was founded 11 years ago.

"We want it to be easier and faster for everyone to express themselves," tweeted the site, which started testing an increase to its limit in most languages in early September.

- The Trumps' take on Twitter -

US President Donald Trump, perhaps the world's most powerful Twitter user, has not commented on the policy change but sent a few lengthy tweets from his tour of Asia, including a 217-character post from Beijing on Wednesday in which he thanked Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife for an afternoon at the famed Forbidden City.

Trump, a prolific tweeter who posts pronouncements both mundane and shocking, and had previously overcome the 140-character limit by stringing together multiple posts in what's been dubbed "tweetstorms."

His eldest son Donald Trump Jr was more hesitant about embracing the new policy.

"@Twitter how about a compromise... you give everybody ONE 280 character a day? 140 was an art form, 280 is everyone's chance to write their Gettysburg Address that no one wants to actually read," he said, referring to president Abraham Lincoln's famous Civil War speech.

The website Slate developed a Google Chrome extension for those clinging bitterly to the old limit, cutting off tweets in a person's feed at 140 characters and imposing the old limit on the user. The extension was called simply "140."

"Eventually (in an hour?) Twitter will find a way to circumvent our extension, we're sure. The army of progress marches forever forward, burning everything good in the world and salting the earth behind it. But at least you can use Slate's 140 to make Twitter great again... for now," the site said.

Meanwhile, America horror writer Stephen King needed only 26 characters to express how he felt: "280 characters? Fuck that."

China's Tencent takes 12% stake in Snapchat parent
New York (AFP) Nov 8, 2017
Snapchat parent Snap Inc. disclosed Wednesday that Chinese tech giant Tencent had taken a 12 percent stake, a sign of confidence in the social network that has delivered disappointing results since its share offering this year. A securities filing showed Tencent Holdings had purchased some 146 million shares of Snap non-voting stock in open market purchases in November. Those shares woul ... read more

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