Some New Balance ($NEWBALANCE) data suggests the Boston-based sneaker maker has lost its footing - but amid a popular craze for major brands, it could be pivoting, behaving more efficiently, and embracing a big new trend. 

This typically isn't a good signal - and historical data (not shown) is even less reassuring. New Balance job postings dipped to begin the year and then fell again in the second half of 2019. Right now, at 145 open roles, postings are near three-year lows. Year-over-year, they've fallen more than 23%.

New Balance's Twitter Follower Count (not shown) is higher than a quarter-million, leading the company's portfolio of brands. 

But is New Balance slowing down - or is it pivoting into the new trend, one that pretty much every sneaker company on earth (and a few startups looking to cash in on rare and used kicks) aims to exploit: going 'DTC.' 

The image leading our story is just that, a DTC product - New Balance's customizable cleats, which allows parents looking to outfit their kid for this season's gear to at least duck the trip to the mall. And just because it's getting less buzz, and because it's posting fewer jobs, doesn't necessarily say New Balance is heading for rough seas. New Balance could simply be operating more efficiently since it has an opportunity to cut out a supply chain cost and management process by eliminating the Al Bundys of the world, and taking the goods right to consumers' doors. 

New Balance's LinkedIn ($NASDAQ:MSFT) Employee Headcount reflects a multi-year high for staff headcount, by far, the most positive signal among its data (and, backed up by other online estimates). So far this year, staff count has risen by nearly 8%. 

About the Data: 

Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

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