It was a terrible start to the week for shareholders of Freelancer Ltd (ASX: FLN). The growing tech company’s shares plunged 12% to $1.31 on Monday following the release of a less-than-impressive quarterly update.

According to the release cash receipts were up 31% year on year for the third quarter to $12.7 million, leading to year-to-date growth of 47%.

Although the operator of the world’s largest freelancing and crowdsourcing marketplace delivered strong year on year growth, third quarter cash receipts fell approximately 4.5% from the previous quarter.

Whilst management didn’t comment on the drop in cash receipts, it has pointed out that its Escrow.com platform has seen a slowdown in revenue growth. Escrow.com benefitted previously from a bubble in the Chinese domain name market, but with that bubble now popping things have returned to normal for the business.

Another cause for concern is the fact that operating costs have increased. The combination of lower customer receipts and higher operating costs meant the company went from being cash flow positive in the last quarter, to being cash flow negative this quarter.

Like many, I was hopeful the company would finish the year with positive cash flow. But this is looking unlikely now, especially with the company forecasting for operating costs to increase in the fourth quarter.

Whilst I am surprised at the magnitude of the drop in its share price, I’m not surprised to see its share price drop lower. Freelancer’s shares trade on high multiples and any sign that growth is slowing is going to lead investors to panic and head for the exits.

I still feel there is a great long-term investment here and one that has the potential to replicate the success of SEEK Limited (ASX: SEK) over the next decade.

Freelancer is in a strong position as the market leader in a growing industry. There will be some excellent quarters and there will be some disappointing quarters, but ultimately I expect patient investors will be rewarded handsomely. I would view this sell-off as an opportunity to buy at a fairer price.

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Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.