Tech

Tim Culpan is a technology columnist for Bloomberg Gadfly. He previously covered technology for Bloomberg News.

Weibo just posted net income and revenue that beat analysts' estimates, a nice surprise for investors.

The Chinese social media company also forecast higher than expected sales for this quarter. Another welcome surprise.

One metric the Twitter lookalike reported that should surprise nobody: user growth.

In the two and a half years since it listed in the U.S., the increase in Weibo monthly active users from a year earlier has been as stable as a battleship in dry dock. The figure 36 has appeared three times, and 33 and 34 twice each in the company's 10 quarterly reports. Growth has never breached the boundaries of 30 percent to 38 percent.

Precision
Weibo's growth in monthly active users has remained remarkably stable in the past 10 quarters, compared with Twitter's which has followed a more understandable steady decline
Source: Weibo, Bloomberg

Compare that with Twitter, which over the same period has posted a gradual, and somewhat predictable, decline in MAU growth from 25 percent to 3 percent.

Now the quick and easy explanation is that Weibo is in an earlier stage of development, so it isn't comparable.

Actually, it is. Twitter listed in November 2013 and user data extend back as far as the first quarter of 2012, its sixth year of operations. Over that year, MAU growth slowed from 103 percent to 58 percent, a 45 percentage point difference. Weibo reached the same age three years later and its figures varied by just 4 points, remaining at 34 percent to 38 percent growth.

Whatever the explanation, such impressive stability is something to Tweet about.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.

Weibo's Stable User Growth Is Something to Tweet About

  1. Twitter MAU is based across the quarter, Weibo's is based on last month of the quarter. Such methodology should make Twitter more stable and Weibo more variable. It doesn't.

To contact the author of this story:
Tim Culpan in Taipei at tculpan1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Matthew Brooker at mbrooker1@bloomberg.net