What changes did Elon Musk made to Twitter – What might he do next?
Elon Musk, Twitter’s most important sh*tposter, has added the company to his business empire after months of legal skirmishes, according to CNBC, The Washington Post, and Insider.
The acquisition was confirmed in an SEC filing from the company on Friday morning, noting its delisting $TWTR from the New York Stock Exchange. He celebrated by firing executives.
Musk originally offered to buy Twitter in April, then changed his mind and tried to back out in May. Then, he changed his mind again on October 4th, filing a letter with the Securities and Exchange Commission affirming his commitment to the original deal. Musk has been meeting with Twitter employees this week and is expected to address them on Friday now that his $44 billion takeover is done.
Although Musk has said that his Twitter acquisition is “not a way to make money,” he’s reportedly raised ideas for cost cutting and increasing revenue.
Governments and corporations could be charged a “slight cost” to use Twitter, and there could be job cuts on the table to improve the company’s bottom line.
More broadly, Musk has talked about using Twitter to create “X, the everything app.” This is a reference to China’s WeChat app, which started life as a messaging platform but has since grown to encompass multiple businesses, from shopping to payments and gaming. “You basically live on WeChat in China,” Musk told Twitter employees in June. “If we can recreate that with Twitter, we’ll be a great success.”
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What changes has Elon Musk made at Twitter and what might he do next?
Elon Musk’s approach to managing Twitter since buying it has been as unpredictable as his timeline on the social media platform.
The world’s richest man has axed staff, floated a change to user verification and is reportedly considering a number of moves that would represent a widespread overhaul of the service if carried out. Here are the biggest changes he has made so far or is considering enacting.
Twitter began sackings among its 7,500-strong workforce on Friday, amid reports that Musk plans to fire about 50% of them. An email to staff said: “In an effort to place Twitter on a healthy path, we will go through the difficult process of reducing our global workforce on Friday.”
Musk raised just under $13bn (£11.6bn) of debt to help fund the acquisition of a company that lost $221m last year. Its new interest bill will be about $1bn a year, so he needs to cut costs and push up annual revenues that reached $5.1bn in 2021.
Musk is now the sole director of Twitter after dissolving the board, including the chair, Bret Taylor, and sacking a number of executives as soon as he took over the business last week.
The firings included the chief executive, Parag Agrawal, the chief financial officer, Ned Segal, and the head of legal, policy and trust, Vijaya Gadde. As the de facto CEO, Musk has brought in a team of associates to help him run the business, including his personal attorney, Alex Spiro, and his tech investors Jason Calacanis and David Sacks.
Changes to verification
Accounts of public interest on Twitter carry a blue tick next to their name, confirming that they are who they say they are; Musk has signaled that he is about to charge users for that privilege. More than 230 million people tweet daily and about 420,000 of them have a tick next to their name.
On Tuesday, Musk indicated that verification will cost $8 a month as part of an overhaul of the platform’s premium service, Twitter Blue. He tweeted: “Twitter’s current lords & peasants system for who has or doesn’t have a blue checkmark is bullsh*t. Power to the people! Blue for $8/month.”
Content Moderation and Account Reinstatement Plans
Musk has promised there will be no changes to content policies, or reinstatements of banned accounts such as Donald Trump’s, until a newly announced content moderation council is convened. He has said it will take at least “a few more weeks” for a new process overseeing account reinstatements to be put in place.
Twitter has also said it has been subject to a coordinated trolling attack since the takeover, in which vexatious accounts attempted to give the impression that the site had become a hate speech free-for-all. The company’s head of safety and integrity said the platform had been bombarded with hateful content – at least 50,000 tweets – from 300 accounts.
Musk has floated the idea of splitting Twitter into different strands of content. He suggested that users select which version of Twitter they want, in the style of choosing a film based on its content rating. He also backed a user’s suggestion that the service splits into different video game-style modes, including a “player versus player” version, where verified accounts can hold Twitter spats. A user could assign a rating to their posts, which would then be modified by “user feedback”, which sounds like a Wikipedia-style approach to moderation.
Bringing Back Vine?
Musk launched a poll on Monday, asking users if he should bring back Vine, the app sharing six-second-long videos viewed as a precursor to TikTok but shut by Twitter in 2016. The result, after almost 5m votes, was 70% in favor. However, the app’s code has not been updated since 2016 and platforms such as TikTok and YouTube represent formidable opposition.
Charging for Video Content
Musk is also reportedly considering charging for video content. The feature would involved letting people post videos and charging users to see them, with Twitter taking a cut. However, the plan has been flagged internally as high-risk, according to the Washington Post, which cited a memo flagging “copyrighted content, creator/user trust issues, and legal compliance”.
The tech news website the Verge reported in August that Twitter, under its previous leadership, had considered letting adult content accounts sell OnlyFans-style subscriptions on the platform. However, the project foundered on concerns that Twitter would not be able to police the service properly for illegal material such as child sexual abuse, the Verge reported.
Bringing in Tesla coders
The Twitter overhaul is being guided partly by a team of software engineers and specialists at Tesla. More than 50 employees from Musk’s electric carmaker have been joined at Twitter by two from his tunneling firm, the Boring Company, and one from his brain implant business, Neuralink, according to CNBC. The news organization reported that Tesla staff have been reviewing code at Twitter, as Musk pushes through his overhaul plans.
There is one change that Musk is keen to prevent: an exodus of advertisers. Given that ads account for 90% of the company’s revenue, the Tesla CEO needs to keep them onside while he tries to boost income via other initiatives.
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