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Lyft shares surge on hopes it will turn a profit this year

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Lyft shares surge on hopes it will turn a profit this year

Lyft’s stock price soared Wednesday on hopes that the ride-hailing giant could finally become profitable once it recovers from its coronavirus-fueled downturn this year.

Shares in the Uber rival jumped about 11 percent to $59.40 in premarket trading after executives said there’s a chance the company could turn its first profit in the third quarter of 2021.

Lyft said profits were on the horizon partly because it slashed $360 million in fixed costs last year amid the COVID-19 crisis. The Silicon Valley firm also expects demand for rides to start bouncing back in the spring and summer as vaccines are rolled out.

“Obviously, pulling in profitability would require a strong summer rebound,” chief financial officer Brian Roberts said on a Tuesday conference call with investors. “However, the fact that this is now even a possibility in the Q3 time frame should increase investor confidence.”

Lyft’s business has gradually improved since its ridership plunged last spring amid nationwide lockdowns sparked by the coronavirus pandemic.

The San Francisco-based company raked in revenues of about $570 million from October through December, down 44 percent from the year-earlier period but up 14 percent from the July-to-September quarter.

Lyft’s cost-cutting measures — which included layoffs and lower costs for insurance and payroll processing — helped it post a smaller-than-expected adjusted quarterly loss of $150 million before interest, taxes and other items. Wall Street analysts were anticipating a $185 million loss for the quarter.

“Despite the difficult backdrop in 2020, we continued to focus on improving our business for the long-term,” Lyft CEO Logan Green said in a statement. “The progress we’ve made has been significant and I believe we are now in a stronger position than at any time in our past.”

Lyft still has a long way to go before its ridership returns to pre-pandemic levels. The company said it had about 12.5 million active riders in the October-to-December quarter, down 45 percent from nearly 23 million the prior year.

With Post wires

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Twitter to let users charge followers to see premium posts

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Twitter to let users charge followers to see premium posts

Twitter is branching out from advertising to find more ways to make money — both for itself and for its most prolific users, whether those are businesses, celebrities or regular people.

In an investor presentation Thursday, the social media company announced a new feature called “Super Follows,” which will let users charge for extra, exclusive material not shown to their regular followers. This can include subscriber-only newsletters, videos, deals and discounts. Users would pay a monthly subscription fee to access the extra content.

Twitter users — and the company’s investors — have long been asking it to launch a subscription-based model. This as a growing number of internet creators and influencers use tools like Patreon, Substack and OnlyFans to make money from their online popularity.

The subscriptions will also allow Twitter to tap into a broader range of revenue sources in a world where online advertising is dominated by a Facebook-Google duopoly. Twitter did not detail what percentage of the revenue it would share with celebrities and others who sign up paying subscribers.

“Exploring audience funding opportunities like Super Follows will allow creators and publishers to be directly supported by their audience and will incentivize them to continue creating content that their audience loves,” the company said in a statement.

Super Follows is not available yet but Twitter says it will have “more to share” in the coming months. Another coming product, “Revue,” will let people publish paid or free newsletters to their audience. There’s also “Twitter Spaces,” a Clubhouse competitor that lets users participate in audio chats. It is currently in private beta testing, which means it’s not yet available to the general Twitter audience.

The San Francisco-based company also said its revenue goal for 2023 is more than $7.5 billion, more than double its 2020 revenue of $3.7 billion.

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Twitter shares hit record high as it forecasts doubling revenue

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Twitter shares hit record high as it forecasts doubling revenue

Twitter said Thursday it expects to double annual revenue to at least $7.5 billion and reach 315 million users in 2023, sending its shares up more than 8 percent.

In an announcement ahead of its investor presentation Thursday, Twitter said it will increase the number of features it launches to increase revenue and users.

The social media network has struggled to add features as quickly as larger rivals like Facebook and smaller viral apps like ByteDance’s TikTok. But in recent months, it has made a push to launch new products, including an audio-chat feature similar to viral app Clubhouse.

Twitter said in a filing it expects to reach at least 315 million monetizable daily active users (mDAU), or users who see ads, by the fourth quarter of 2023.

Internationally, Twitter faces challenges in India, a rapidly growing market for social media use. The country plans to require social media companies to erase certain content and coordinate with law enforcement.

Twitter had previously refused to delete content connected to the farmers’ protests in India.

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Facebook exec withdraws from race for LA Times top editor post

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Facebook exec withdraws from race for LA Times top editor post

Anne Kornblut, a former Washington Post Pulitzer Prize winner who now works for Facebook, is the latest candidate to pull out of the race for top job at the Los Angeles Times, Media Ink has learned.

Kornblut withdrew her name from the running following a Feb. 19 report in the Wall Street Journal that LA Times owner Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong is exploring a potential sale, sources said.

Soon-Shiong, who acquired the LA Times, the San Diego Union-Tribune and a handful of weeklies for $500 million in 2018, has denied the report. But as The Post reported last week, it appears to be complicating the LA paper’s search effort with another candidate — Janice Min, a former executive at The Hollywood Reporter and Us Weekly — also withdrawing from the race.

Kornblut is currently head of curation for Facebook News, where she started as a director. Despite continued conflicts over the Mark Zuckerberg-owned social media network’s freewheeling approach to paying for news, her digital background was considered a big asset by the LA Times search committee, sources said.

Kornblut also has an impressive newspaper career, including stints at the New York Daily News, the Boston Globe and the New York Times. In 2007 she moved to the Washington Post, where she worked as a deputy assistant managing editor and oversaw teams that won two Pulitzer Prizes, including in 2014 for coverage of Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks and in 2015 for reporting on security lapses within the US Secret Service.

She could not be reached for comment. A spokeswoman for the LA Times said only that a search for a new editor continues.

The Journal report said Soon-Shong is exploring several exit strategies as his newspaper losses mount, including an outright sale, bringing in an investor and selling the San Diego paper.

Soon-Shiong, who rarely communicates with the press, tweeted Friday that the WSJ report was not true and that he was “committed to @latimes.”

Chris Argenti, president and COO of the parent company California Times, also splashed cold water on the report. “Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong and his family continue to invest in and plan for the future of the California Times which includes the LA Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune and do not plan to sell,” he said in a memo to the staff Friday. “It’s unfortunate that the Journal chose to publish the story and we’re sorry for any concern it may have caused.”

Also on the list, as The Post has reported, is ESPN’s Kevin Merida, editor-in-chief of The Undefeated sports blog. He did not return a call seeking comment.

The top job at the LA paper opened up in October when Norm Pearlstine said he would be stepping down as executive editor. He left the post mid-December.

In addition to financial losses, Soon-Shiong has been dealing with newsroom backlash over diversity issues, including allegations of pay disparities.

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