Turns out Twitter is its own worst enemy.
The social media company, which is already struggling against investor doubts about its meager growth, saw its share price plunge today after its latest earnings results leaked in a tweet.
Selerity, a data science company that hunts for the online addresses of earnings releases based on past URLs, posted Twitter’s first quarter earnings results to Twitter well ahead of the company’s planned release of the figures. The less-than-stellar results sent Twitter’s stock down more than 18 percent by the market’s close.
Regardless of when the results came out, they weren’t great. Twitter posted a big miss on revenue in spite of the company’s launch of new products and features meant to attract more users. In the first quarter, Twitter’s revenue rose 74 percent to $436 million, but missed analysts’ expectations for $456.5 million. The company averaged 241.6 mobile monthly active users—a key metric—missing an expected 243 million.
“Revenue growth fell slightly short of our expectations due to lower-than-expected contribution from some of our newer direct response products,” Dick Costolo, Twitter’s CEO, said in the company’s news release.
Now a little over a year after the company began publicly trading its stock, Twitter has faced intense pressure from investors to have its revenues çatch up with its perceived cultural value and compete with other social networks. Recently, the company has rolled out new tools to make its service more accessible to new users, including giving strangers the ability to direct-message each other; adding options like an auto-filling Instant Timeline for Android users; and surfacing the most popular tweets that a user may have missed from their feeds.
In some ways, the tactics have worked: the number of Twitter’s total monthly active users rose to 302 million for the first quarter, up 18% from the same period a year ago. Last quarter, Twitter reported adding just 4 million new users, the smallest jump in quarter-over-quarter growth for the company so far. Costolo promised investors the company would rebound in this past quarter, which it did accomplish—amounting to a small win for Twitter. Twitter’s first quarter adjusted earnings also came in at 7 cents per share, beating analyst estimates of 4 cents per share.
But for a company that’s been doing everything it can do to meet investor expectations, and has been struggling on the way, this disclosure is anything but fortuitous—and didn’t even appear to require much effort on the part of the data science company that ultimately revealed the earnings. Twitter tweeted that it had asked the New York Stock Exchange to halt trading on its shares while it sought the source of the leak. But Selerity said (on Twitter) that it hadn’t done anything wrong: “Today’s $TWTR earnings release was sourced from Twitter’s Investor Relations website http://ift.tt/1ivKWSP . No leak. No hack.”