Twitter hits 255 million users but slow growth worrying investors

Twitchy Twitter investors sent the company’s share price tumbling by more than 10 percent in after-hours trading Tuesday after the company’s growth figures for Q1 2014 failed to impress.

The microblogging service picked up 14 million new users during the first three months of the year, marking growth of 5.8 percent and taking its user base to 255 million. For long-term investors, however, the figure appeared to disappoint, with a drop in year-on-year timeline views for the quarter apparently adding to their angst. Twitter CEO Dick Costolo explained the dip in views as partly the result of the company refining its service, allowing users to be more focused in the way they engage with the service. The data caused shares to drop by just over 10 percent to $37.79 in after-hours trading Tuesday.

The company posted a net loss of $132 million – four times greater than a year earlier – though revenue came in at $250 million, up 119 percent on 12 months ago. Of the $250 million, $226 million came from mobile advertising.

“We had a very strong first quarter. Revenue growth accelerated on a year over year basis fueled by increased engagement and user growth,” Costolo said on the company’s website, adding, “We also continue to rapidly increase our reach and scale.”

In an earnings call following the release of its Q1 financial results, Costolo highlighted some big numbers, drawing attention to the three billion views of Oscars-related tweets in March, as well as significant user engagement with other major events like February’s Super Bowl. He added that there’d been a 26 percent jump in the number of tweets people favorited or retweeted.

In recent months, Twitter has rolled out a slew of changes to its service with the aim of improving the user experience, putting more focus on images and altering the way profiles are shown on the Web version of the social media site.

Twitter landed on the stock exchange in November last year. Shares sold for $26, peaking in February at $73.71.

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